Tonight I put my years of pizza experience to work and cooked me a couple of homemade pizzas entirely from scratch. I mean it too. I mixed my own dough from ingredients, my own pizza sauce from tomato paste and seasonings and topped it with fresh veggies and meats I cooked myself. I did it all from scratch and it was a blast.
This was no small feat for me. For starters I had only begun baking from scratch a couple of months ago when my sister dropped me off a 5 pound bag of flour to get me started. On top of that I have had my share of baking mishaps over the last couple weeks. I baked dinner rolls that I renamed biscuits once they were said and don. Tonight was also a trip down memory lane of sorts.
I took my first pizza job as a delivery driver for Pizza Hut when I was just 19 years old, mere months before I turned 20 in 2002. During the subsequent ten or so years of my life I primarily made a living bouncing around from one pizza joint to the next. I landed on pizza driver because it was easy for me.
As a high school drop out pre-GED my job prospects were quite limited indeed. I wasn’t even truly qualified to work as a cashier at a gas station. Even K-Mart turned me down until I came back armed with some cash handling experience and that coveted GED. At least with a valid driver license and a car in my name I could run pizzas from store to door for a fair wage for a few years while I figured out what I wanted to do with my life.
It wasn’t until 2009 after I flunked out of truck driving school I realized I needed to make a drastic change in my life. At that time I was living in a van in my sisters back yard. I had hit what you could call rock bottom. Essentially homeless, unemployed and nowhere to go but up I turned my life around. But it wasn’t easy.
After a while I got into college. I landed my first gig in the entertainment media business as a videographer/DJ doing weddings. I parlayed that into a job at a TV station before becoming a journalist the next seven years. The rest is history.
In 2010 the winter before I signed up for college courses I attempted to make a homemade pizza for the first time. At that time it was a weird pipe dream. I had worked in pizza so long I figured I would try to get into my own franchise. It didn’t take long before I learned that wasn’t a reality for me. So I baked an unappetizing pie made mostly from scratch with a few short cuts here and there. I called it a loss considering nothing I cooked was edible. I threw the entire contents of that night into the garbage.
Tonight was a victory for me. A long ways away from those minimum wage jobs scraping by wearing my car down for pennies on the dollar. I decided I would take the culmination of all that experience and knowledge I stock piled all those years ago to see if I could end up baking a homemade pizza that I could classify as edible. I succeeded and then some.
I made two pies. I tasted each and they both fit the bill. They were so satisfying I ate a couple slices from eat and ended up with no heartburn to show for it! That was the mark for me. A tasty pie that I could save leftovers for the next day. I also had a blast baking the pies while my beloved girlfriend watched via Discord.
The take away for me is never give up on your dreams. Twenty years ago I was working in a dead end job with no education, no prospects and no clue what I was doing. Today I was able to bake a pizza from scratch merely as a testament of will. I wasn’t cooking a pizza for a minimum wage job. I wasn’t doing because I had no other options. I wasn’t rushing to get a pie delivered to an ungrateful chump who was going to demand it be free because I wasn’t willing to run red lights to get it to them in that awful 30 minutes or less promise we had at the time. Tonight I was baking a pizza for me.
It was a reminder of where I came from. How I overcame the damn odds to rise above. I am so far beyond successful in life as is often pointed out to me I have every right to look back and be a little smug about how far I’ve come.
Tonight was my way of nodding to my past self saying you got this. It gets better. I considered it a win because I was doing it for me, to prove I could. I look back on my life grateful for how far I have come. I no longer have to settle for minimum wage jobs busting my butt for a boss several years younger than myself. I am finally at a point where I get to chose my own path and that is one hell of a tasty prospect. Like those pies I baked today entirely from scratch. That’s how I lived my life making it up as I went along, taking nothing but raw ingredients and turning it into a delicious success story. Bon Apatite.