New York

There was a scene from last week's Glee season finale, where Will enters the room where the New Directions kids are, carrying seven boxes of pizza. "Real New York pizza," he claims, still driving home the fact that we are in New York, and not in Lima, Ohio (or, technically, a sound stage in Los Angeles).

"Ray's Pizza. Nice."

That's Jeany, my currently-on-hiatus friend from New York. She lives in an apartment in Times Square, which means she's seen (or at least was capable of seeing) the Glee cast shoot their admittedly patronizing musical number in the city.

"Real NYC pizza. Hah. Not."

I could blame it on her New York upbringing. After all, everybody who lives in New York pretty much frowns on anybody who lives outside its boundaries. And she lives in Manhattan, so she pretty much frowns on anybody who lives beyond the Hudson River, as well as that other river whose name I'm too lazy to search. But then again, she lives in New York City.

"Okay," I answered. "Define real NYC pizza."

"Thin crust, good mozzarella, just a little bit of charcoal. Brick oven is my fave."

I recalled that story while waiting for my order two days back at Yellow Cab. You look around the store, with photos of the New York skyline and names of relatively obscure (for the uneducated) landmarks in the city. And then there's the name. Yellow Cab. Supposed to remind you of the taxis that go around the city. Ironic since their billboards say "if you want a pizza, call a cab!" but the image beside it is of a guy in a scooter delivering pizza.

Of course, the idea is that their pizza is supposed to be New York-style pizza. But it doesn't have a thin crust, and they definitely don't bake it in a brick oven - that'd be expensive. Authentic? Close-enough imitation, perhaps - and I don't know how NYC pizza tastes like.

There's this other store, Brooklyn Pizza, that trades on the we-serve-New-York-style-pies idea as well. Only it's not on a thin crust, and it's chewy. And I'm not sure if I really taste a hint of charcoal, or industrial oven.

Sure, you'll say, it's not New York pizza but New York-style pizza, adapted to suit Filipino tastes, because eating crackers topped with mozzarella and pepperoni is weird even if Shakey's is doing well here. Now, that wasn't New York-style, but it had thin crust, and it used to serve beer until it wimped out to become a family restaurant. Well, it worked, because the place is always full with reuniting families, or grandparents celebrating their birthdays with the entire clan.

The same goes for Yellow Cab, but its crowd is different. You know, upper class families that don't give a damn whether they're eating out wearing their pajamas. The sort that always speak English. Yuppies who supposedly live the fast life. Students who cannot tolerate fast food. I'm not exactly any of those, but I like the food, and when I eat there it feels like I can speak English with a perfect American accent, without fumbling a single word. (Or maybe it's because I'm at the Alabang branch. The other branches, especially those located in more mass-friendly places, are empty.)

They are selling New York as an illusion. Want to feel successful? Want to feel like a hot-shot financial type? Want to feel like a happy-go-lucky Williamsburg hipster? Want some touch of grit on the side? Why not eat here? You know you cannot be an actual hot-shot financial type or an actual happy-go-lucky Williamsburg hipster. You're not born in the right place. You're not supposed to dream. So we'll just ease you into your failed ambitions, yes? For an hour you're not a wimp.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into it. Yes, I definitely am.

I ordered a 14-inch four-cheese pizza and two Charlie Chans. They said it'd take twenty minutes. I was seated there for forty. The order finally arrived, and I stood up to the counter, peeved. I thought of telling off the staff for being so slow on a Sunday. They failed. Maybe I could get an extra calzone.

"Here's your order, sir."

"Salamat," I said under my breath. I wimped out.

And your responses...

I love both Glee and New York-styled pizza. There is something about it which makes you think less of its gazillion calories and more of the delight with every bite you sink your teeth on. :)
Nice blog you have here. And I'm impressed. You have this for more than 6 years. Wow. :)

Anonymous Anonymous5/31/2011     

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