Yesterday while I was still in my pajamas at 12:09 in the afternoon (and perpetuating the myth that all unemployed people spend all day working without getting dressed) my phone chirped at me with a text message from my mom.
“You didn’t eat lunch yet did you?”
“I just stopped at Great Harvest Bread and bought rolls and pepperoni bread.”
And at that moment time stopped, the heavens parted, and the sweet voices of angels floated down into my ears. “Kate! Pepperoni bread is on its way!” Okay, that’s exaggerating. In reality I salivated a little, made no effort to shower, and continued typing up the blog post I was working on. But I was excited!
Seeing as I can no longer prance around the streets of London and pretend like I’m living the high life of a world-traveling musician, I’ve begun making myself appreciate the little things that are really great about being home. And one of those things, you guessed it, happens to be pepperoni bread.
When I was really little of going to Labriola’s Italian market every time we went to visit my Nunnie in Pittsburgh. (Sidenote: If you know nothing about Pittsburgh outside of the Steelers and the funky accent, let me be the first to inform you that Iron City is FULL of Italian Americans.) We almost never missed going when we visited, and would often make the trip even though we had just finished the 4½ hour drive to get there.
Labriola’s had a really unique smell, not a bad smell, just a special one that was a combination of cardboard boxes and fresh bread. It wasn’t a big store; there were maybe 10 little aisles to the whole thing, but I had two favorite aisles in particular. The first, all the way on the right side, was the aisle with all the pasta. In my 7-year-old eyes they really had everything under the sun, from the ubiquitous farfalle to Colavita soup shells. The second aisle, closer to the door, was the one with all the picked stuff: anchovies and olives with pimento, peppers and pickles and calamari, and other things that just looked cool and weird in the jar. I was fascinated.
Anyway, none of this was really that much reason for me to want to tag along, because inevitably I would stare at the jars for a minute and then get bored. The real reason was that there was something special that only Labriola’s could make: fresh, warm pepperoni bread. We would also buy thin sliced salami and prosciutto for lunch, and fresh bread for dinner, but that all paled in comparison. The smell and feel of fresh pepperoni bread was king.
The smell makes me think of my childhood. I’m transported back to Pittsburgh, to Labriola’s, to my Nunnie’s tiny kitchen, watching old soaps playing on the black and white TV on her counter, listening to her talk in heavy Pittsburghese while cooking homemade pasta sauce. I didn’t always have the most fond memories of her house, especially as I got older, but the pepperoni bread is still one good recurring memory that remains untainted.
I couldn’t find real pepperoni bread in London, but I’m sure glad I can find it here. It’s a little reminder that there are special things here that just can’t be found elsewhere.