I still remember Mom trying to convince Dad that he should take us out for dinner. It wasn’t as if we didn’t eat out all that often. With my parents working six days a week editing a newspaper and printing all sorts of other things, they often celebrated on Saturday evening by going out for dinner and hauling me along. Only this time she wanted a “special” dinner.
This was back in the late 1940s. Several of the young men and women, who had served during World War II, would stop by the newspaper office describing their experiences in Europe. Often they’d brag how good the food was in the various countries where they had spent time. The food most often mentioned was a strange concoction called pizza.
Back then most of the towns in central Iowa were predominantly inhabited by Scandinavians, few had ever heard of pizza – my folks and I included.
Anyway, my mom had been convinced that Dad needed to take us somewhere to buy a pizza dinner. After studying a variety of newspaper ads, she decided a trip to Des Moines and Noah’s Ark was on the menu. Seems Noah’s Ark restaurant had received rave reviews for its anchovies, mushroom and green pepper pizza dish they specialized in.
That Saturday night found us seated at a table toward the back of the main dining room at Noah’s. As my parents studied the menu, they read aloud the tantalizing descriptions of the various pizzas. I listened to each choice and quickly decided that I would settle for my normal restaurant fare: fried chicken.
I can’t remember which pizza they ended up ordering but I’m sure it did not contain anchovies because my mother was not a fan of any type of fish.
The pizza and my chicken arrived about the same time. A very short time later, my parents both started sneaking morsels off my dish. Soon my plate was empty but the pizza had barely been touched. A kind and sympathetic waitress – who had evidently seen this happen several times before – asked if we would like a “doggy bag.”
After she retreated to the kitchen I asked my mom what a doggy bag was. She smiled and said it was a sack in which one can take home food for one’s dog. Well, I knew what my dog, Blackie, would think of that pizza but I didn’t say anything. After all, Blackie had better taste than that.
I can’t remember what happened to the pizza when we did get home. I imagine it got pitched. Perhaps Dad fed it to his chickens.
I did, however, learn a couple of things that night. When in doubt at a restaurant stick, with something you know you like and if you do end up with something you don’t like, ask for a doggy bag – it’s a good way of getting rid of it without drawing too much attention to your lack of knowledge in the world of food.
Ed Rood is the former publisher of the Tri-County Times.