One of the main principles of keeping kosher is not to “cook a calf in its mother’s milk.” Simply put – don’t eat meat and dairy in the same meal. This is a tenant of kashrut that my parents brought me up to follow, and is pretty much second nature to me. I don’t make chicken parmigiana, I eat hamburgers instead of cheese burgers, and I frequently substitute butter for parve margarine. So when I was planning to cook Shabbat dinner for Kirios a month or two after we started dating, and he requested a meat pizza, I was taken aback. Let me be clear – Kirios understood that I don’t mix meat and dairy, he requested a meat pizza without any cheese. But I refused immediately. It seemed absurd.
For me, pizza is by nature a dairy meal – bread, sauce, and cheese, plus any veggie toppings if I so desired. For Kirios though, his ideal pizza was inherently meat. Pepperoni, sausage, chicken… you name it; he loves it on his pizza. Sure, his pizza usually includes cheese as well, but he was willing to live without it for the night, declaring meat paramount. His argument seemed perfectly rational and logical – kosher meat, sauce, bread, and any veggies we choose. Why not? Still, it seemed so foreign and unnatural to me. “We still can’t do it. All of my pizza pans are dairy, I won’t cook meat on them,” I declared. I thought I had won, but my stubborn boyfriend persisted – he bought me a brand new pizza pan to be used for meat, instead of dairy. “This won’t be the only time I want to eat a homemade meat pizza with you,” he said confidently.
For that first meat pizza, I didn’t have time to make a special trip to the Kosher store, so I purchased kosher beef salami and turkey slices from the regular supermarket to top our pizza. It was a big success – Kirios’ point was valid: meat, sauce and bread; what’s not to like? I thought of it like a veggie burger – not a replacement for a hamburger, but a valid entrée in its own right. I wasn’t exactly ready to abandon cheese pizzas, but mixing things up with a meat pizza every once in a while didn’t sound like a bad idea either.
Kirios and I have made several homemade pizzas since. I’ve made special trips to the kosher store and we’ve experimented with different meat toppings: hard salami, turkey fry strips, beef fry strips, and spicy sausages. We even made a cheese pizza with Morningstar fake bacon (which features ridiculous neon coloring). One day we bought kosher lamb bacon, which triumphantly declared the best kosher substitute for regular pig bacon – although we had that top a salad instead of a pizza.
My family was especially interested in hearing about our meat pizzas – for them, like me, the idea of pizza with meat seemed unnatural to them. But they were also fascinated by the idea – understanding that it was a different but delicious pizza formula. Kirios and I will be making another meat pizza for dinner tomorrow night, to share with my brother and sister-in-law who are coming to visit. Unfortunately there was no lamb bacon at the Kosher store this week, but we’ll be topping our pizza with fresh veggies and basil, beef fry strips, and chorizo sausage.
Personally, meat pizza is more than a good story and a good meal to me. It’s representative of how Kirios and I have shaped our relationship. He is respectful of my traditions and observances, and I understand that he has differing views and preferences. We weren’t raised the same way, and it can be challenging, but it also keeps things interesting. And when we include each other and share our favorite things, our culture, and our traditions, it makes them even better. Anyone else hungry for Greek food now?