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An Ode to Pizza

            For the next few months I will be on a soft food diet, post-oral-surgery, which means nothing chewy or hard or crunchy or sticky. But really what it means to me is, no pizza. I already miss stuffed crust pizza, and Spinach ricotta pizza, and plain pizza, and four cheese pizza, and pizza with eggplant parmesan on top, and pizza with white clam sauce, and pizza with artichokes and peppers and mushrooms. I can find soft bread for sandwiches, and I don’t eat much steak, and I’ve been avoiding whole nuts forever, but even the softest, cheese-filled crust pizza is going to choke me if I can’t chew it well enough.

“We’ll chew it for you!”

            Unfortunately, there is a pizza place, a really good one, right around the corner from me and I can smell their food every day. I could probably order one of their baked pasta dishes, but I don’t want to, because what I really want are the garlic knots, or a meatball hero, or a mushroom salad, and a crispy artichoke pizza, and, really, I can make a pretty good lasagna on my own.

            I can still eat vegetables, even broccoli and cauliflower, as long as I put them in the food processor and blend them to death, and I can have a hamburger, as long as I cut it into toddler-sized bites, but pizza in a blender is no longer pizza, so pizza is not on the menu.

“No pizza bones for how long?”

            I’m looking forward to being fully healed and able to eat not only pizza but also bagels and chocolate chip cookies with macadamia nuts, and Twizzlers, and, oh my god, an actual apple! A granny smith apple!

            Food is one of the few things in my life that has reliably brought me joy (puppies are wonderful, but they also bark, and demand to go out in the snow, and, you know, expect me to pick up their poop). But I’ve had to be on all kinds of limited diets since childhood: for religious reasons, or financial reasons, or weight and health reasons, and it all sucks.

But I spent almost a week after the oral surgery not eating much at all, because even when I felt hungry, I was just too nauseous to enjoy the food, so I decided that even on this soft food diet, I’m going to try to enjoy everything I can eat. Like Matzo ball soup. I could live on matzo ball soup, really – with the overcooked carrots and potatoes and chicken, and the matzo balls! And it’s not too spicy or acidic or crunchy or chewy. Or ice cream in every flavor! And there’s tuna salad, and risotto, and pasta, and chocolate mousse! There’s a lot of wonderful food to eat and I’m not going to go hungry.

            But, still, no pizza.

            Harrumph.

“Harrumph.”

            If you haven’t had a chance yet, please check out my Young Adult novel, Yeshiva Girl, on Amazon. And if you feel called to write a review of the book, on Amazon, or anywhere else, I’d be honored.

            Yeshiva Girl is about a Jewish teenager on Long Island, named Isabel, though her father calls her Jezebel. Her father has been accused of inappropriate sexual behavior with one of his students, which he denies, but Izzy implicitly believes it’s true. As a result of his problems, her father sends her to a co-ed Orthodox yeshiva for tenth grade, out of the blue, and Izzy and her mother can’t figure out how to prevent it. At Yeshiva, though, Izzy finds that religious people are much more complicated than she had expected. Some, like her father, may use religion as a place to hide, but others search for and find comfort, and community, and even enlightenment. The question is, what will Izzy find?

About rachelmankowitz

I am a fiction writer, a writing coach, and an obsessive chronicler of my dogs' lives.

107 responses »

  1. You’ve listed some good, and yummy, alternatives to pizza but I hear you, it’s not pizza. Sending good thoughts for fast healing.

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  2. Pizza prohibition is simply too much to bear! Thank goodness for ice cream, though. Here’s to a very speedy recovery.

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  3. I laughed out loud at the pups exclaiming, “We’ll chew it for you!”.
    You’re making the best of a challenging time. I would totally make matza ball soup for you and might try to think of a way to make pizza soup. 🤔

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  4. I laughed out loud at the pups exclaiming, “We’ll chew it for you!”.
    You’re making the best of a challenging time. I would totally make matza ball soup for you and might try to think of a way to make pizza soup. 🤔

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  5. You’ll enjoy pizza ten times more than ever before when you finally can eat it again. You made my mouth water reading your descriptions of all the various kinds!!

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  6. So hard when it is part of your daily food group Rachael! When I had my wisdom teeth out four years ago all I could manage was a minute bit of tinned spaghetti (which is comfort food to me) and a one inch by one inch piece of toast. I ended up with a massive infection and was so sick for two weeks. As you say the nausea keeps you from wanting food! I did lose quite a bit of weight.
    Here’s to on-going healing for you with the promise of pizza at the end! Lynn

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  7. Yikes! I had to be on a bland diet for six months (and this was during the lockdown, when there wasn’t a lot of pleasure anyway!) It did suck, but I did lose 50 pounds, and I’ve managed to keep most of it of, so that’s something. Wishing you good health soon!

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  8. I like Ann’s comment. Make piping hot pizza soup. There are lots of recipes online. You can make a big batch and it gets better after being in the fridge for a day or so. Don’t try blending pizza slices; there’s too much bread. Here’s a link to one recipe: https://bowl-me-over.com/supreme-pizza-soup-betterbakery/

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  9. Oh now I’m hungry!
    (And good luck. Time will go quickly)

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  10. Be able to read some humor in among the despair at having to forego your beloved pizza during this recovery period convinces me that you can get through this, Rachel. I didn’t even know there were that many kinds of pizza! Stick with your hearty backup options and remind yourself of just how good life’s going to be when recovery restrictions are behind you.

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  11. Spinach ricotta pizza and pizza with eggplant parmigiano on top?! Be still my heart! In solidarity, I will not eat any pizza until you are able to. Cricket does present a really good argument for chewing it for me, though…😆 🍕

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  12. That’s a sad state to be in.

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  13. I hope your recovery is swift and complete so you can enjoy pizza soon.

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  14. Oh and you get the luxury of enjoying New York Pizza which makes this all the harder. My husband is from Jersey. Oh so many years ago he took me to the city to experience real pizza. I can still taste that slice and nothing has compared since.

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  15. So you have something wonderful to look forward to. I like how your dogs are so willing to help chew it for you.

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  16. Hope you heal quickly Rachel. I can’t imagine not being able to eat pizza. Stay well. Allan

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  17. I’d try some eggplant parmigiana.

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  18. I remember eating a lot of soup as I recovered from a procedure. The wait will just make the pizza even better when you get to eat it!

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  19. Well, what can I say — I wish you a speedy recovery so that you can enjoy all the pizzas you like!

    The Empire State is known for its pizzas (including Sbarro, which is pretty popular here in the Philippines), and it makes me sad to read that you can’t enjoy them just yet.

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  20. Dear Rachel, I so feel your pain! Went to a very similar thing like you did years ago and the first 6 weeks or so afterwards are just horribad in regard to food but believe me, it’s all worth it. Just hang in there, stick with the non pizza stuff for a lil bit longer and soon you’ll be able to have pizza again as much as you want. Get well soon and have pawtastic week ahead.

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  21. Here’s hoping those few months fly by. Ice cream will help.

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  22. Just think how great that first slice of pizza is going to taste! Wishing you a speedy recovery Rachel.

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  23. Breathes there a human who doesn’t relish pizza? I like your ending though appreciating several wonderful soft foods. Hope the time flies until pizza is on your table.

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  24. The difficult time also passes a day at a time. You’ll soon be able to eat all that you like.

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  25. We always want what we can’t have it seems! Lol. I am glad to hear you are healing. AND you have lots of excellent meals to look forward to now!🥰

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  26. I only have one pizza a week, sometimes only one a month. But I would miss it too. I prefer ‘thin and crispy’, and always extra black olives. 🙂
    Best wishes, Pete.

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  27. I am not looking forward to getting my teeth taken out. I usually like my foods, solid, lol

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  28. That is a very unusual pizza topping range you are usually offered. There is nothing like that in Scotland.

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  29. Best wishes for a quick healing, Rachel!

    Not being able to eat food you like is a pain. I one time was on medication that altered foods prepared with vinegar or made with tomatoes such that they tasted pretty nasty.

    After a month in hospital, though, I was in the mood for pizza (there’s a pattern here) and I ordered one in. I bit into it, barely choked it down, and realized the joy I anticipated at celebrating the end of hospital food wasn’t to be!

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  30. Love your pups’ sense of humor! 😉
    Wishes for quick healing!

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  31. I’m currently on a soft-food diet for dental reasons as well. Eggs cooked most ways, pudding in various flavors, small curd cottage cheese are now staples in my diet. I also make a crustless grilled cheese on rye sandwich, which I then cut into tiny pieces and toss in a bowl of tomato soup. Oh, how I long for when/if I can bite into a big, fat juicy cheeseburger or through the crust of pizza. I have tried by building my own pizza on soft bread, but it’s nowhere near what pizza is really like. Good luck with this! On the bright side, I’ve lost 8 pounds in under 3 weeks!

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  32. Perhaps you will enjoy a Spanish tomato-based soup like Gazpacho or Salmorejo? Both are full of lovely, rich and uplifting flavors. Take care!

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  33. Inspired by your posts, I’ve picked up Duolingo again after a long hiatus and it makes the pizza cravings hard to ignore too! I hope you heal quickly and can enjoy eating all the foods you miss!

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  34. I am just imaging how unimaginably delicious that first bite of pizza will be when you are all healed up. By the way, that pizza place near you sounds *amazing.*

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  35. Nope, no pizza or apples, but there’s always applesauce…

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  36. As one who tried pizza in a blender for my best beloved after all his teeth were surgically extracted, I can attest that it is no longer pizza. Worse, it’s a sticky mess that takes patience to clean up.
    Best wishes as you experiment! And do enjoy what you can eat.

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  37. Matzo ball soup is one of my favorite foods. I used to order it in a restaurant in Florida that made a really good one.Best of luck with the soft food diet. 💕

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  38. 😱😱😱 NO PIZZA?!?! 😱😱😱 ARRGGGGHHHH!!!

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  39. I like your descriptions of food!

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  40. Well that would suck but best too cut down on pizza anyway ya know…you will be okay.

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  41. They make pizza flavored Italian ring crackers called Taralli Pugliesi that you can put in tomato soup and let get soft for a pizza flavor. My other suggestions are those soft cheese gnocchi dumplings that you can kind of get a pizza flavor with the sauce. In a short time when you heal up you might want to start with a soft style of Detroit pizza. A place near me called Fly Bye by Fox Concept Restaurants makes the softest pizza I ever had in my life. It’s as soft as angel food cake. Maybe someone near you makes that kind of style of pizza? Good Luck and have a fast recovery!

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  42. I was on jaw rest for six months because of TMJ, and I feel your pain and frustration. I think that one of my low points in that time was getting a soup and sandwich at Panera that I couldn’t eat because the bread was too chewy even when I cut it into tiny pieces. I finally put all the pieces into the soup to soften the bread and it actually turned out pretty good. I’m not sure that would work for you with pizza, but I highly recommend plopping your ciabatta bread into harvest squash soup. To this day I still can’t eat bagels or other chewy breads and I miss them. Hugs. I hope you recover quickly.

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  43. I feel your pain. Had a cyst removed from inside my mouth and lived on mashed potatoes, egg salad, etc. for a while. Was definitely ready for pizza when it healed.

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  44. I’m so sorry — life without pizza does not sound fun at all!

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  45. I’d say follow the doctors orders but don’t obsess about what foods you miss the most. Somehow you made me think of ice cream here

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  46. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, I mean the stomach growl louder. Take care!

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  47. You’re making me hungry now! 🙂 Enjoying food that you can eat sounds like a good plan right now. Take care.

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  48. wishing you an easy “pizzy” recovery… 💕

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