East To West, Holy Land Snack, Via Rome, Gibraltar

Whitney, Texas – THERE IS A PLACE, a crossroads at the place of the skull, where the silk and tea, steel and spices, potions, powders and other wondrous substances trade for coin, transported by camelback, ship, and the way of the wheel, to all nations.

In a time when there were no guarantees, health insurance, social security, welfare or food stamps, the poor people gleaned, a practice it is written in Old Testament tales such as Boaz’ redemption of Ruth through the intervention of her mistress, Naomi, as permitted by the nobility, the landed gentry.

What ingredients they could obtain through barter, stealth, larceny or begging for the ask it, they would bring to the ovens of the bakers who produced the unleavened bread prescribed by the dietary laws of the Israelites of the Hebrew faith.

Naturally, what dough was left over in the desert heat would be no good the following night, and the bakers would roll it out for the poor to garnish with what they had, bake it, and allow them a late night snack to keep the hunger at bay, at least until the dawn.

How did this midnight repast gain its reputation as an Italic delight?

Naturally, the Roman soldiers on patrol as police officers for the occupied nation were as hungry as the poor; they often stopped in for what they could glean.

When their columns of the Legion rotated back home, to the Italian peninsula, they took their experience with them, called it pitta, after the Greek, for petea – bran bread.

Marco carries on the tradition from his shop in an old prairie emporium of antique brick, subdued light, and spicy aromas that will make the sweat pop out of your brow, the nose to bring a sweet agony to the tongue, the moment you clear the threshold.

His pizza reminds one of the east coast variety, ladeled with tomato sauce heavily laden with olive oil, lots of garlic, oregano, mushrooms, anchovies, Italian sausage – even the odd garnish of pineapple, many types of peppers both red, yellow and green.

You could have just stepped off the streets of Roxbury, Brooklyn, South Philadelphia, Mantua – Trenton, Jersey City.

But the truth is, you’re home safe, at home in the arms of God, on the banks of El Rio de Los Brazos de Christo.

Marco markets twice-baked spaghetti, Alfredo, salads, and pizza, pizza, pizza – on a buffet at a price of less than $5 for seniors, and only a little more for their juniors.

Each day, promptly at 2 pm, he allows the old soldiers, the elderly, the crippled, the people with not enough to eat, to come into his restaurant, where his staff respectfully allows them to eat – to take the leftover pizza home in the same kind of boxes he delivers for take-out.

A few hours later, following the dinner rush, he does the same.

Somewhere, there is a purpose-built life, everywhere, there is charity and good will, and in the air there is that – feeling – the one you have felt, no matter how fleeting, the one the Greeks called agape, the love of life and the world and its people, that selfless emotion of which Christ declared – in testimony of the Holy Spirit – “God is Love.”

But, then, George Burns told John Denver in that movie – you know the one – “You know how the press is about these things.”

It’s still news – good news – and it was never, ever, by any stretch of the imagination, exaggeration or hyperbole – anything like fake.

I am sincere.

I have spoken.

So mote it be.

  • The Legendary

Triptych: Lady, mirror, Legendre, and second Lady – in baseball cap.

(click image for full size) 

Marco Pizza, 115 N. Colorado St., Whitney, TX 76692

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