“The only way to hurt a man who has lost everything is to give him back something broken." – Thomas Covenant
There was a survey on FARK a few days ago about where readers thought the best pizza in the world was. Everyone had their hometown favorite. My hometown favorite was Fat Cat Pizza in Lancaster, OH. “Was” is the word that puts the anchovies in that sentence.
We started picking up Fat Cat Pizza around 1979. They wouldn’t deliver out to our house out in the country so we had to drive through the bad side of town, the West Side, to get it. They had the BEST freaking pizza. The crust was thin and crisp. The sauce…(Here’s where I realize I am not a food critic nor am I keen to taste adjectives. Let’s just say it was great pizza.)
There was a Fat Cat’s West and a Fat Cat’s East. Rumor had it that a happily married pizza business couple became unhappy and split the family business, as well as the town of Lancaster, in half. The wife took Fat Cat’s West and hubby, Fat Cat’s East. I can’t remember the woman’s name, but she had a dog named Bear.
My brother started working at Fat Cat around 1983. My sister in 1985. I started in 1986. It was a family affair. You’d go in at either 4 or 5 and work until midnight. The dough was made in the morning and allowed to rise in wheeled, Rubbermaid trash cans. You would grab a ball of it and throw it in the flattening machine. A toss here and there and then on to the pie pan. There was some hand held, mid-evil torture device made from plastic that put dents in the dough. Add sauce, cheese and toppings. Into the oven you witch! Ta da, magically a cooked pizza came out the other side. In the box and cut it into squares with the giant, stainless steel scythe. In between pizzas there was time to fold boxes and drink free pop out of flour coated mason jars. What a job.
Then three-a-days started with Coach Redmen in football and I pussied out. I couldn’t keep up with going from 6am practices through midnight making pizzas. So I quit Fat Cat Pizza.
I didn’t quit eating it though. In my opinion, nothing beats a pepperoni/mushroom. I dreamed of it in Alaska and wrote about it in my journal when Acton and I went to Europe. At family gatherings we would always get Fat Cat’s the night before turkey. If you were late, dad would heat up slices in the oven. If you were really late, the microwave.
Now I live in Columbus and Fat Cat’s is still within reach. If I drive down, I can order it from the car and pick it up right as it comes out of the oven. It would still be warm when I got it home, but half of it would get devoured in the car. Corners first and eat inward.
Greg had a party recently. We went out to the Lancaster bars. I left my credit card at one. The perfect excuse to go back to Lancaster and get Fat Cat’s. The following Monday I drove down. I ordered. Picked-up. I was eating a corner within three minutes on the way back to Columbus…
And something was horribly, horribly wrong. The crust was different. Some kind of French bread crap. It was slightly thicker and had a taste that was not Fat Cat’s. The sauce was the same as well as the pepperoni and the mushrooms, but the combination of flavors was not Fat Cat’s. I kept eating squares, hoping that something would change. Nothing did. Doug wept.
I immediately called a few friends. I finally tracked down one that corroborated my taste buds. He had it a few weeks ago and it tasted different to him too. It was true. And an era was over.
Farewell Fat Cat’s.
Author’s note: I haven’t done it yet, but please feel free to call Fat Cat’s at 740-687-1966 and voice my displeasure. Tell them HolyJuan is pissed.