I’m Anticipating a Pizza

I’m anticipating a pizza. There are three of us sharing it and it’s not what any of us would have were we given free reign.

I’d have gone vegetable. Maybe anchovies.

My son is easy to predict. He wants pepperoni and black olives.

Our friend is harder to predict. He likes a variety of bell peppers and bread crumbs on top.

You would think that a compromise would include a bit from me, a bit from my son, and a bit from our friend. It turns out that it just my son got one from his wish list on the pie. Pepperoni and sausage. We colluded, and came up with something simple and spectacular.

Years ago I was the front of the house and bar manager at Satterfield’s over in Cahaba Heights. Ownership had a clever idea. We would offer a fine dining lunch. The location was pretty damn good. We had AT&T and Blue Cross corporate headquarters nearby, numerous lending institutions, and a traffic free option for all the over the mountain operations that wanted a nice place to impress clients.

It didn’t quite work out that way. What we got was a swarm of very sweet little old ladies splitting a chicken salad sandwich and sitting for untold hours as they caught up with friends. It was a monetary disaster. Within four months we shut down lunch and went dinner only.

Lunch wasn’t a total loss. We discovered Haller.

If you are a goofy fan of Birmingham restaurants and the culinary scene, you’ve heard of Haller. He can take white fish and make you cry. He’s creative, unexpected, and fun. Really fun.

He eventually became the head chef, but at then he was a lowly culinary student making pizzas for the elderly lunch crowd that didn’t want pizzas.

At the time we barely knew him from Adam. At best he was the guy with the really hot girlfriend. His other distinction was that he was on the receiving end of the “Haller Pizza” button.

The “Haller Pizza” button was surrender. We had a very adaptable point of sale computer system. It was ours to play with so we made up all manner of buttons. The “Haller Pizza” button got you an employee priced pizza but you had no say in it. Haller would take allergies into account and extreme dislikes as well, but basically if you hit the “Haller Pizza” button you were offering yourself up to his whims.

He gave me a tomato sauce, asparagus tips, bacon lardon, sweet corn, mozzarella, and fontina pie. I’ve never forgotten it. I make it at home on occasion, but it’s always a sliver off of that first time.

Sometimes it’s okay to give in. Give someone else free reign.  

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