One of my clearest memories from primary school is everyone being handed a paper plate and asked to recreate our favourite foods. While I vaguely recollect building pizza slices out of cardboard, what I can picture most clearly is mixing pva glue and white paint in search of a substance that could pass for mayonnaise. A little more paint then a little more glue: a careful balancing act that made me the most intensely focused seven year old in the room.
I remember making real life pizzas with my mum and sister: sprinkling grated cheese onto the base and laying ingredients on the top so they looked like a face. As an adult, I remember watching somebody get berated by the judges for doing a similar thing on celebrity masterchef. I felt sad that they had taken something joyful – making and sharing food – and turned it into such a serious endeavour.
When I got to university I discovered takeaway pizza – the kind with thick slices that drip grease through the box. They were best eaten late at night to accompany intense alcohol driven conversations. There was something magical about waiting for them to arrive, of eating straight out of a box, and finally sinking your teeth into something so doughy and warm.
One night, I was sat in a college with a large group of people of which I only knew about half. I was hungry, but probably not hungry enough to eat a whole pizza. I was expressing this the person next to me when I heard a voice from further along the table: “I’ll share a pizza with you.” That was the first time we had ever spoken, but a few months later, we would be in love.
The first time I went round for dinner at his house, he served me homemade pizza followed by profiteroles (which I only pretended to like). A year or so later, in the same kitchen, we hosted a party based around stuffing a pizza into a roast chicken before frying it in a wok, because an extended in-joke got out of hand. Later, my housemate won a bet for submitting an essay including the phrase “pizza fried chicken”.
After university, I escaped to India. I lived in a house with a group of volunteers. We were cooked three amazing meals a day, but would guiltily order from Dominoes when we were fed up with curry.
My second boyfriend shared a name with a South African pizza chain. I was horrified to discover that they served a pizza with banana on it, but was ultimately unable to explain why this was different to serving pizza with pineapple.
Two years after that I would be sitting in the window of a restaurant with another man, boldly claiming that I couldn’t be friends with somebody who didn’t like pizza. “What if I told you I didn’t like pizza?” He asked. He did like pizza, and he asked me to marry him about eight months later. For our first Christmas together, I bought him a pizza stone. I’m trying to convince him we want to serve pizza at our wedding.