Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Hippie Pizza

After years of nagging from by wife about eating healthier, I’ve begun to tolerate hippie pizza - you know, the kind with little or no meat on top and no tomato sauce at all. Instead, there’s some goat cheese and vegetables of various types, some of which you’ve never heard of before. She promises they’re good for me, which usually means they won’t taste good. If you’re really, really hungry though and there’s nothing else to eat, they’re edible.

My first hippie pizza experience was at a restaurant with a lot of ferns in ceramic pots hanging from the ceiling on macramé straps and with fat candles around. I was very hungry and chowing down my little mini-pizza - an old-fashioned one with pepperoni, tomato sauce and lots of cheese. While I was eating it, my wife offered me a taste of hers several times, but I declined. “It’s very good,” she’d insist, “you should try it.” I’d say no and continue chewing my retro pizza. It wasn’t big enough though and I was still hungry when she stopped eating hers and there were a couple of pieces left. She saw me looking at them and asked, “Now do you want to try it?” I took a few bites and they weren’t bad if I sipped a little wine with them.

My wife and daughters love Flatbread Pizza, a chain of hippie pizza restaurants spreading around New England lately. So far, I’ve only been to North Conway and Portland but I notice patterns. Some customers have matted dreadlocks tucked up inside bulging Grateful-Dead-type knit hats. Others wear Phish-type bandanas tied in the back. Aging hippies prefer the old-style pony tails and few if any hats. They may be bald on top, but enough graying hair still grows on the sides to put an elastic on. Waitresses are skinny vegan women or smiling, Mama-Cass types. Dress is yard sale chick with nothing tucked in. One important difference between my generation of aging baby-boomers and the next group coming up: we tuck in our shirts and they don’t. Younger people want to project the image that they don’t care as much about appearances, taking great pains to select clothing which reflects that.

Most of the waitresses had little tattoos on them. I think there are more tattooed women in their twenties and thirties than men, a reversal from previous generations. I don’t know for sure what the tattoos portrayed because my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. I didn’t want to put on my reading glasses and stare closely at their arms while they were writing down orders. They might consider that rude. One thing I didn’t see was facial jewelry - no lip studs or rings in nostrils, tongues or eyebrows and that was a blessing. Such ornamentation would be an appetite-suppressant for me and perhaps for some other patrons as well. Shaving legs or armpits is optional but that doesn’t bother me.

Around the Portland restaurant there are children’s drawings hanging on clotheslines resembling Tibetan prayer flags. Tibetans are hip because they’re more in tune with nature and the cosmos than heterosexual Republicans like me. The chairs and benches in Portland are yard-sale-chick too, painted over with different colors in their lifetime with newer layers worn away to reveal older, contrasting layers beneath. I think the message is that it’s better to use recycled wood than cut down trees to make new ones.

The menu proclaims organic vegetables, phosphate-free meats and free-range chicken toppings. The salads are organic, of course, and contain seaweed. It’s an old fisherman joke that when you reel in some seaweed instead of a fish for the dinner plate, someone will say you caught the salad. Well, there it was at Flatbread in Portland. The Pizza arrives on a typical round pizza pan, but the crust is oval-shaped and overlaps on each end. I think they could make it round if they want to but don’t in order to appear nonconformist. They don’t cut it up in the usual way either with the trusty roller blade making diametric cuts into wedges. No, they make one cut lengthwise through the oval and then perpendicular cuts across that, creating little rectangles instead. When the check arrives, it’s clipped on a cedar shingle with an old clothespin. Pretentiously unpretentious.

Flatbread’s website declares that it supports the community and the North Conway restaurant has a reputation for doing that. However, if it’s true that we are what we eat, I fear that if I continue eating there I may start wearing Birkenstocks and signing on with the Green Party. I going to have to load up on phosphates and nitrates when I eat at home just to preserve my way of life.


Anonymous said...


Tom McLaughlin said...

Thanks for the feedback, Tyler. Have a nice summer!

Anonymous said...

I was just up in your area last week on vacation with the family (the storyland, santa's village, etc. tour). Read your "News Control Is Mind Control" column in the The Conway Daily Sun.

Good stuff. Keep it coming.

BTW, is it me or is NH getting as overrun with hippies and hippie-wannabe types as VT is? Took a drive through North Woodstock and the place was awash with tie-dye, pony-tails and birkenstocks. Yech.

It's like they want to move to the country but can't bring themselves to head south or west, so they head north.

Tom McLaughlin said...

You have it about right Gary. They worship Nature and want to be close to it.

New Hampshire became a blue state in 2004. It was red in 2000. Both times it was close. They have a Democrat governor but Republican congressional delegation. Kind of the opposite of Massachusetts.

Maine is more like Vermont than NH, but if present trends continue, they'll all get more like Cambridge.