Yesterday was my birthday. It has long been a family tradition that the birthday kid gets to choose the restaurant.
I told my wife that I wanted to celebrate with a delicious (red) clam pizza from Papa's, my favorite local pizzeria. She has been trying to cut back on body-stuffing bread and cheese, and argued in favor of going somewhere where I could get pizza and she could get something else. After much whining, I agreed to go to Vazzi's. It's a pretty good -- not great -- local Italian restaurant that had replaced a truly great Italian restaurant operated by a nice family from Cape Verde.
She ordered veal marsala, and didn't like it. Our niece Allison ordered chicken parm with linguine, and didn't like it. I ordered my red clam pizza and it sucked. The pasta fagioli was cold and loaded with carrots. Yeccch.
My pizza was made perfectly (heavy on the sauce, but light on the cheese, crisp but not burned). Unfortunately the sauce had no flavor and the clams were obviously from the can.
Since none of us finished the unsatisfying meal, the food was packed to take home. I knew I would see the same rejects a few hours later, for supper.
After work, in an effort to avoid the misery, I stopped at the Dunk'n Donuts next to my office to get one of their little car-convenient CD-sized pizzas to eat on the way home. It's not "real" pizza, but it's better than the shit that was waiting for me in the fridge at home.
Alas, my plan failed. The disembodied voice from the speaker squeaked something like "no more pizza."
Dejected, I drove home. Wife tried to push her rejected veal marsala on me, emphasizing how good the mushrooms are. I like mushrooms. I don't like marsala sauce.
The thought of eating the non-Papas clam pizza was too depressing, so I opted for Allison's leftover chicken parm and linguine. Wife wanted to heat it in the microwave. I told her not to bother. I can enjoy cold linguine, and I planned to scrape off the clotted cheese anyway. She insisted that it would taste better hot. I countered that re-heated shit is still shit, and not to bother.
I forced myself to eat a few strands of pasta and a few pieces of chicken and then bailed out. Throughout the meal, my eager-to-eat dog Hunter was in his normal position with his chin firmly perched on my upper right leg, awaiting his "vig."
Vig, from "vigorish," was originally a Yiddish word, derived from a Russian word, now more often associated with Italian mobsters. It's used in several ways. It can be the fee charged by a bookie for his services, or the interest charged by a loanshark, or the 10% "protection" fee paid by a business to the mob to avoid murder and mayhem.
In our family, the vig is the approximately 10-25% of my food (which could be Rice Krispies, scrambled eggs, potato chips, cooled wonton soup, a burger, an apple, or even lobster or steak) that is paid to appease Hunter, the Golden Retriever with the endless appetite.
Hunter is usually quite patient because he knows he'll collect at the end of the meal. Sometimes, however, if he feels that I'm eating too slowly, the pressure of chin-on-upper-leg will increase. Sometimes he'll switch from right leg to left leg. If he gets really impatient, I'll see a damp dark nose emerge from under my armpit. Sometimes he may provide some verbal encouragement to hurry up and pay the vig. If he's extremely pissed off, he'll stand up and put his face in the plate.
If I'm eating something that's inappropriate for canine consumption, I say, "not for doggies." Hunter knows this means that although I don't think he should eat it, if he is willing to wait, he will eventually wear me down. If it's something he really should not eat, like chocolate cake, he'll settle for around 3% vig instead of his usual 10-25%.
However, last night's food sucked so bad, I wouldn't give it to a dog, and certainly not to my dog. He settled for some rice cakes and ice cream. So did I. Not exactly a birthday banquet, but 63 is one of those "dumb" ages that does not merit much commemoration.
Today I will celebrate 63 years plus one day, with a proper clam pizza, at Papa's, alone. I'll save some of the crusts for Hunter.
CLICK for the original blog about Dunk's pizza.
Thursday, April 16, 2009
Crappy Birthday to me, R.I.P. Dunk'n Donuts pizza, and dog vig
Posted by Michael N. Marcus at 4:50 AM
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Funny story, Michael.
I hope you have better luck today.
Being 63 is not so bad. It's better than dying at 62.
I will be in New Haven from about May 21 thru 25th. Right now my first two nights are free. Even though my personal devotion is pledged to Frank Pepe's, it would be a privilege to take you for clam pizza at the place of your choice.
Belated Happy Birthday.
Your blog keeps getting better and better! Your older articles are not as good as newer ones you have a lot more creativity and originality now keep it up!
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