I hate to admit this, but in my pre-pandemic life, I’m a pizza snob. I can’t help it, I live in Brooklyn! It’s home to institutions like Grimaldi’s, Lucali and Paulie Gee’s. I’ve waited in line two hours to shell out $5 for a single slice at Di Fara. I’ve embarked on the legendary Scott’s Pizza Tour not once, but twice with family and friends. I even hosted the rehearsal dinner for my wedding at our neighborhood favorite, Sam’s Pizza. I’m not kidding when I say I haven’t bought a frozen pie since I moved to New York City 13 years ago. Could I really enjoy a DiGiorno pie?
Don’t get me wrong: Desperate times call for desperate measures. And I count myself lucky that I could even find frozen pizza on the shelves. (I know from friends that quite a few places have long sold out of this option.)
My husband cranked the oven up to the recommended 400 degrees. He’d picked out a Supreme to try first, which I soon learned comes with all the fixings. (Sausage, pepperoni, green and red peppers, onions and black olives, too.) I was busy chasing after our toddler when he placed a slice next to me on a plate.
I took a bite. What is this crispy goodness? I mumbled, crumbs falling out of my mouth. The toppings taste so fresh! The dough is so soft and savory. This is exactly the treat I need right now.
In an instant, I recovered a part of my pizza identity I’d accidentally blocked.
It was a sunny weekday in the ‘90s. I had a close-to-lunchtime school dismissal and both my parents worked full-time. I was old enough to disembark from the school bus without supervision (and with marching orders to look after my younger sister). The first thing we’d do was a fridge check to see what the snack options were. My number one choice was always a slice of Ellio’s Pizza, which came with nine slices ready to be heated in a toaster oven and neatly packaged in a box. The runner-up was Celeste, just as good, and also microwaveable. (Speed was a virtue, especially when you’re a hangry middle schooler.)
Now, here I was—in the middle of an international pandemic—once again dreaming of frozen pizza. But now I was also grappling with the idea that perhaps I had robbed myself of this freezer-ready deliciousness all these years?
I’ve decided there’s more to it than that. Sure, a frozen pizza is a source of nostalgia, but it’s also a huge source of comfort in a time like this. Come on, it’s ready in minutes, it’s a one-and-done dinner and it tastes good. It checks all the boxes in terms of my culinary—and emotional—needs right now. (It doesn’t hurt that my toddler loves pizza. A win-win.)
Do I have to force myself to space out my frozen pizza dinners? Maybe. (The convenience is so addicting, if my husband didn’t stop me, I’d sail through all seven in exactly a week.) But I’m also improving my cooking and reheating techniques. (I’m even toying with an investment in this baking steel, a rec from a fellow pizza snob.)
It’s safe to say that post-pandemic, I think my pizza palate has expanded to forever have a soft spot for the frozen pie. (Just don’t tell the guys at Sam’s.)