The Life of Liz

How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world. ~Anne Frank

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Bastard Child of Cheese

We in the Gilpin house like to extend birthday celebrations beyond the traditional day, to as long as a month. Do we do it because we feel that one day is insufficient to celebrate such an occasion? Are we Roman emperors? No. We just have seriously disjointed schedules and it seems to work out that way.

As part of our continued celebration of my Aunt Kathy's birthday (and in a large part because there was a birthday coupon for free food) we had a Girls Nite at the City Pizza, in Arvada. This is the only establishment in the greater Denver Metro Area that serves the magical food known as St. Louis Style Pizza.

Perhaps you are giving your computer screen a blank look. What is St. Louis Style Pizza, you ask yourself. Well, close your eyes (except don't, 'cause you're reading!) and imagine a large round cracker, made of flour and particle board. Now picture it covered in provel and cut into squares.
Wait, you say. What the heck is "provel????"

Provel is a strange and glorious combination of cheddar, swiss, and provolone. It was invented in St. Louis (on the Hill, if that means anything to you), for the purpose of topping a St. Louis style pizza. And what was required for the vision of this pizza, was a "clean bite": a cheese that melted well but broke off nicely when bitten. Thus was Provel born with a very low melting temperature and an odd, petroleum-like consistency that sticks to the roof of your mouth, but not your intestines.

Basically, it's the bastard child of cheese. Technically, due to something about the moisture content, the FDA refuses to recognize this food substance as "cheese." But I don't mind, I think it's delicious. However, unless you are a native of St. Louis (as I am), or a discriminating gourmet (as my aunt is), there's a good chance you'll think it's gross. There's also a really good chance that you'll burn your mouth on it, because something in the chemical makeup of provel causes air to cool only the top, forming a crust of sorts while the inside cheese keeps getting hotter.

This weird and tasty pizza brings back wonderful memories of Sunday afternoons eating pizza with my friends (I really only ever ate it with friends as Mom hates it and refuses to let it poison her house). I'm very thankful that, even though I have moved hundreds of miles away from my hometown, I can still feel connected to it. So go Cardinals and pass me a bud light and a piece of pizza.
So, if you're ever in St. Louis, hit up an Imo's Pizzeria and try some St. Louis style pizza for yourself. After all, they don't call it the Square Beyond Compare for no reason.


AllAlleys September 19, 2007 at 12:52:00 PM MDT  

Good post! As the discriminating gourmet there was something niggling in my mind that clicked when you said the words “clean bite” and “petroleum” and I think I know now why I love St Louis pizza so much! In high school I brown bagged it with the exception of the very few days when there were absolutely amazing things on the lunch menu. My all time favorite was pizza buns. The bottom was half a hamburger bun. The next layer was a smear of pizza sauce-ish stuff (maybe pepperoni flavored, but there was nothing to be seen that indicated any meat!) The top was what made it memorable. It was a I” wide 3” long piece of yellow petroleum, clean bite-ness! It was toasted a little in the broiler, kept warm till 3rd lunch in the warmer, and my absolute favorite! I have tried ever since then to replicate it, making acceptable substitutes that served as good quick suppers over the years, but I never was able to make it exactly the same. I’m sure it wasn’t provel; it was whatever processed cheese food the High school bought in the huge quantities needed to make the delicacy, so I don’t figure even now to be able to recreate it…………….I mostly told you all that to thank you for my trip down memory lane, and to let you know I’ll be glad to eat City Pizza with you whenever you want!

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A brand new mom trying to navigate the crazy world of mixed families, babies, and working full time. Phew! Just writing that makes me want to lie down.


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