I made a pilgrimage back to Ohio last weekend. Ostensibly it was to catch up with the folks and perhaps check out the Brier Hill Italian Festival. I’ve long loved local festivals of all sorts in any community, but I knew there would be bonus points if I stumbled on the making secrets of Youngstown’s famed contribution to the pizza dialectic. (I would share them with you here, of course.)
When all was eaten and gone, however, I flew away with something quite unexpected, if not as neatly original (and admittedly quite solipsistic). At one point in the weekend, my dad mused aloud how different things might have been if I had never left suburban Ohio–if, well, New York, and then later Brian Sacawa had never happened to me. It was a startling thing to consider after experiencing so much Youngstown community in the form of local Italian and Greek food festivals and making nostalgic explorations of now-abandoned or much-altered local landmarks. I came home to Baltimore slightly disoriented, as if I had stepped a little too far through an alternate doorway and failed to return at the appointed hour. I did, however, remember to take a few photos. It was all exceedingly tasty.
Things started out well enough with some dedicated sweets-eating at St. John’s Greek Orthodox Church.
Later on, it was admittedly the pizza not the moon that hit us in the eye. What can I say? It was hard to look away and leave the last piece for midnight snacks. The sauce staining our fingers, we left Brier Hill feeling a little more Italian than when we had arrived.
All of this eating resonated as a fairly powerful statement about the links between food and personal history. And so in my case, when all was said and done of course, it was the shared tea and biscuits with mom, and coffee and donuts with dad, that meant the most. (Awww….)
UPDATE: Dad throws down a challenge: