So, apparently it’s actually National Sausage Pizza Day, if you’re looking for something specific to celebrate, but while thinking about pizza, my mind immediately jumped back in time to the grade school cafeteria. Back then, Pizza Day was the best day of the week and I loved those little rectangular slices of goodness on a thin sort of crust. Not sure if the sausage was even made of actual meat, but as a kid, I thought it tasted fantastic. Perhaps it was simply the unique shape, resembling an over-sized postcard that made it seem like no other pizza on the planet. The pizza I would encounter at home would be shaped like slices of pie and they all had that awful crust. This little marvel was crustless! For a kid, it was pretty much the equivalent of reaching pizza nirvana.

Looking at the tray now, I realize what a horrible meal this actually was for a child. Yellow food, brown milk, and absolutely nothing green in sight. It’s often a wonder I was able to grow up at all with so little actual nutrition on my plate. Last year, I saw an article from Food & Wine showing lunch trays from cafeterias across the world and it appears things haven’t improved much at all. Every plate of food, in every other country, looked rather like a smaller plate of food that should actually be eaten by adults. In America, kid’s meals often look like a smaller plate of adult “bar food” or something one drunkenly orders while justifying that it’s okay to eat because it’s going to help “soak up the alcohol.” I began to realize just how differently my American upbringing made me think about food.

While I appreciated “prepared food” quite a lot, I had not formed a real love or understanding of individual ingredients. I remember the very first time I went to the grocery with Philippe and he stood in front of the fresh vegetables saying to himself, “What do we want to eat tonight?” I had no clue what could be made from all those leaves and strange looking shapes. I was taught that really leafy lettuce was just a garnish and vegetables were rather optional, called “veggies,” and only consisted of corn and green beans. Unless it was a party and then this expanded to include cauliflower, broccoli, celery and carrots. That said, I’ve never tried this little slice of rectangular heaven since I was a child, and have often wondered if I’d still enjoy it now. One this is certain though. I’ll never forget that thrilling feeling of unbridled excitement that could only come from two simple words – Pizza Day!

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About the Doodlewash

Sennelier L’Aquarelle: Indian Yellow, Quinacridone Gold, Red Orange, Carmine, Perylene Maroon, Cobalt Turquoise, Burnt Sienna, Ultramarine Deep, and Payne’s Grey. Lamy Safari Al Star pen with Platinum Carbon black ink in a little red cloth hardbound l’aquarelle journal I found in a Paris shop.
 Day 11 - #WorldWatercolorGroup Pizza Day School lunch rectangular pizza of the 70's and 80's

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30 thoughts on “Pizza Day!

  1. Charlie, you do such a wonderful job with your blog here, not only in inviting such a wonderful array of artists to contribute, but also in your own art, and written commentary. Thanks so much! You and your blog enrich my world. 🙂

  2. I love the painting and the nostalgic reflection and rumination.

    Back home in Scotland, my kids had school dinners 100% of the time – largely because I couldn’t be bothered making packed lunches every day – and they loved the food. It was scratch cooked every day from decent ingredients, there were two or three hot dishes to choose from daily with additional baked potato options plus sandwiches and a salad bar. Then we moved to America. At first my kids reveled in the access to junk food and things like pizza day but they sickened of it quickly – surprisingly quickly actually – and since then I’ve been making four packed lunches 100% of the time. I’m not suggesting every school in Scotland does a sterling job and that every school meal in America is dire, of course. This is just our own personal experience.

    1. Thanks so much, Laura! 😃💕 Yeah… the article I read showed the same. Pretty much anywhere other than America, the lunches were pretty decent and didn’t have any junk food. The American diet is a bit sad sometimes… there’s soooo much wonderful food out there we’re missing by eating all the junk! hehe

  3. Thanks for the memories of hot lunches in grade school! We used REAL glass milk bottles when I was in grade school. And I liked “hot lunch” because most of the time I had a cold sack lunch. 😉 It wasn’t the most nutritional but something I looked forward to. Great Doodlewash, Charlie! 😊🍕🌟

  4. lots of schools, parents, and organizations have been trying to change the school lunch program to offer healthier food options, with varying amounts of success. i was a teacher for 25 years, and i will tell you that the food the kids often refuse to eat are the fruit and vegetable options. they prefer hot dogs, cheese and chips, chicken nuggets, and pizza. not always true because there are kids who eat salad and fruit every day. their interest in food is a reflection of what their parents serve at home, and schools have little ability to combat bad diets. kids will refuse to eat rather than eat what’s good for them. the amount of waste every day is appalling.

    making school cafeterias offer healthy choices is a complex issue fraught with budgetary, political, cultural, practical (full working cafeterias are expensive to build and maintain) and healthy food access problems. not worth the effort if most of the kids won’t eat the food anyway. it could be changed but not without significant parental and voter support. even colleges are replacing full working cafeterias with familiar fast food outlets.

    sad, isn’t it? you wrote a very provocative article today.

    1. Thanks so much, Sharon, for adding your perspective! 😃💕 I do think it’s a problem with the parents mostly. In other countries, they serve their children real food so that’s what the kids expect at school. If they’re just getting junk at home, it’s nearly impossible for schools to impose a healthier lifestyle on them for a brief period each day. It’s really sad though… I feel like I missed out as a child by not learning the importance and deliciousness of real whole food. Thankfully, I’m making up for it as an adult and haven’t had fast junk food in many, many years!

  5. Perfect pizza day, but home made with a special flour “Manitoba”. The best to make pizzas !!
    Unfortunately we hadn’t pizza when I was young as pizzas was not yet as known as today ! Today at school, children have sometimes organic food (in some towns) or a dietetician makes menus for a school food central kitchen and the same plates are served in each school of a town (not always good of course cause they are made for thousands children. When children are older, they have self-service restaurant with many choice. And pizza day or french fries day are always welcome !!

    1. Yum… that homemade pizza you described sounds delicious, Laurence!! When should I come over?? 😃💕 hehe Yeah… it’s a tough challenge to feed so many children for any school. I just wished the kids here in America learned the beauty of real food and weren’t being raised on processed chicken fingers. hehe

      1. Yes and rectangular fish too !! The Manitoba floor is an Italian brand but I think I remember it’s made with Canadian wheat. Perhaps it can be found in Us… It grows particularly well during the making and during the cooking too.

  6. School lunches – I was only allowed to buy once a week due to the fact that from age 10 onwards I had to watch what I ate, doctor’s orders to my mom, to control my weight. Thankfully. I was never obese and usually at the high end of normal for my height, occasionally veering into overweight a few times in my life and then being able to get it back off (like when I was in college, overwhelmed in my career, etc.).

    1. Yeah, I ended up eating lunch at school nearly every day and that’s probably why I was fat during my grade school years. I had a growth spurt leading into high school that stretched me taller so I got thinner, thankfully. But yeah… college and work stress were a weirdly “good” diet for me as well. 😊

  7. As someone who recently re-sampled school-cafeteria pizza, I can assure you with some authority that it’s probably not as glorious as you remember (isn’t that always the way with cherished childhood memories?). But I do love your charming doodle, and the fond memories it evokes for me of my lunchtime favorites. Thank you for another great post, Charlie!

  8. Aw, this is just adorable! Great stuff, Charlie – I don’t think we had these cute little trays at school, ever, but boring plates instead. I never had school dinners, but I definitely remember people getting similarly joyous when the pizza came out! For the ultra brave, there was an option called ‘Star Choice’: a different meal every day served as a complete surprise (leftovers, most likely!). Naturally, I was far too fussy to ever consider such a thing 😛 and kept to my Ronald McDonald lunchbox…

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