A Household Word: Individual Taste
I have three kids and I’ve done my best to raise them to be independent, free-thinking individuals. I’ve encouraged them to buck the crowd, to just say no and to not jump off of bridges, even when everyone else is diving headfirst into shallow water.

I figured that by rearing three rugged individualists, they would be less likely to be bullied on the playground, pressured into sniffing glue or convinced to join the Moonies. I never thought it would affect our pizza order.

Let me explain. These summer nights, my 10-year-old son plays for a AAA Little League team. That means that three or four times a week I go to the field to watch him goof around on the bench with other boys and stand in left field until it’s too dark to see the ball. That also means that by the time we get home, my other two kids are gnawing on each other’s flesh and there’s no time to cook. On these nights, we order pizza.

Calling for a pizza is the no-brainer of being a mom. It’s like dialing your lifeline on Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? or having a “Get Out of Jail Free” card in Monopoly™. And, frankly, this time of year I call that culinary lifeline a lot. In fact, on garbage day I sometimes hide the embarrassing empty pizza boxes in the neighbor’s trash cans so no one will accuse me of being addicted to mozzarella or suspect me of having an affair with the delivery man.

I order pizza because it is one of the few food items that all three of my kids will eat (lobster and Marshmallow Fluff™ are the others) and because, if it’s not nutritionally ideal, well, at least it’s cheap and quick.

The problem is, my nonconformist kids feel compelled to express their individuality every chance they get – even when ordering pizza. Especially when ordering pizza! I guess this shouldn’t come as a surprise. They can’t agree on anything – not what radio station to listen to in the car, not what type of toothpaste we should buy, not what color cheese (white or orange) is best on macaroni. So, it makes sense that they don’t agree on what kind of pizza to order.

My oldest son eats only plain pizza, the 10-year-old gags if there is any visible oregano and my daughter, an aspiring vegetarian, insists on the gastronomic travesty known as “The Hawaiian.” They’re not willing to compromise their pizza values, and I guess I should be proud of their conviction. Frankly, I am happy to accommodate their eclectic tastes and I would even go so far as to order three different pizzas – as long as I don’t have to cook them.

But, they can’t agree what to put on the pizza or where they want to order it from. Our town has a plethora of pizza parlors (it’s a classy place), but there’s no one joint that can satisfy all of my mealtime mavericks. The shop that makes the best plain pizza doesn’t do Hawaiian. The place that has pineapple uses lots of oregano and the pizza with no green specks in the sauce is too greasy for my pimple-prone adolescent. No matter where we get the pizzas from, someone will complain and grumble all through dinner.

Maybe I should be proud, or maybe we should get Chinese food instead. Szechuan or Mandarin? 

Carol Band is collecting take-out menus all summer long. Write to her at You can read more of her columns at

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