Some day, and that day may never come, I’ll call upon you a service. But until that day accept this justice as a gift on my daughter’s wedding day.
— The Godfather, by Mario Puzo
In that chilling scene, the godfather, portrayed by Marlon Brando, agrees to fix a problem for someone else. It begins with a lesson about respect. About using the proper title for a man who carries the most influence in an organization. THE godfather.
And while the tuxedo clad Sicilian-American indicates the act of service as a gift, it is indeed a favor. Some day, I may ask you to pay up.
By contrast gifts are one directional. No expected pay back even if it does put the relationship out of balance. The reward for gift giving is reaction of the recipient. Their benefaction.
But to be clear, the gift is just as much about the sender as the receiver. Try as you might to erase yourself from the equation, it is impossible to do.
Immature gift giving is all about the giver. It’s why we chuckle when grandma gets a football from Johnny.
Even the most sophisticated giver leaves her fingerprints. She may despise golf. Think it elitist and waste of money. And yet she may happily pay $50 for a box of golf balls because her nephew loves the sport.
Simply put, her intimate knowledge of what provides him satisfaction and her choice marks the gift.
In some homes, food is the language of love. It may be the only time when family is in the same room. It is why the Sunday supper is a sacred ritual across this country.
More specifically, this language has dialects. For Shea it might be mac and cheese. For Dave it’s the smoker. And Karen, it’s carrot cake. It’s a foundation on which many variations and countless number of time trials reveal perfection.
For yours truly, the language of love is pizza. Not the kind that comes in a package. Or is mauled by tomato sauce.
No. It’s what most would call “gourmet pizza.” Inventive. Unconventional. And unpredictable.
It’s roots are firmly planted in Naples. Chewy crust. Circular shape. Fresh ingredients. Colorful.
Then the artist emerges. Transplanting flavors from India. Smashing sweet and hot flavors together with peaches and jalepenos. Turning cold arugula salad into a topping. Celebrating umami flavors through mushroom obsessions. Getting nutty with brie and cashews.
Pizza as an art form inspires exploration too. The never ending journey for others deftly playing with pie. Sneaking cruciferous veggies like cauliflower onto a pizza. Thank you Cotogna.
It might be a simple marriage of prosciutto and fresh oregano with gooey mozzarella. By way of Cipollina.
A16 lies in the South of Italy. It’s the freeway that takes you from Casalnuovo di Napoli across the boot to Canosa di Puglia. And it’s the freeway of Italian cooking that San Francisco enjoys just blocks from the Presidio.
Weary travelers can escape the Phoenix heat and ordinary cuisine by ducking into in Pizza Bianco. There chef-owner Chris Bianco slows time with classic combinations like salame and olive on the perfect bubbly crust.
Pizzeria Delfina channels the bounty of Northern California with the sensibilities of Southern Italy. Unafraid to serve parts of the pig not expressed in polite company. And just as bold with flavors and textures emerging from the brick oven.
These inspirations trigger invention at home. Inventions wrapped around family favorites.
When our oldest proclaimed that onion soup was a new interest, it became a pizza. A mountain of caramelized onions wading in syrupy demi-glace topped with shredded gruyere from Switzerland.
Ingredients forged into a formed pie. A function of what makes him happy tethered to the floating balloon of imagination.
That’s today’s invocation. Find your language of love. What are the vocabulary words? What do you have to say? And to whom will you say it?
Let it be about the recipient through the expression of your own talents.
Now that’s a true gift.
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