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Looking Back On History

October 12, 2015

Happy Columbus Day! Like most other American holidays it offers us the chance to buy some stuff on sale. A bunch of people have the day off. And others are up in arms about the whole affair.

There are folks in other places who have decided to eschew Christopher Columbus for the indigenous peoples of the world. I’m going to take a stab in the dark on this one, and say that a majority of those people would feel more comfortable on the left side of the political spectrum. Maybe I’m wrong. And I don’t want to get all political today on this divisive matter.

I’m sure there are some Democrats who want to keep Columbus Day as it is. And I can imagine that there are some Republicans who would be glad to see it go. In my mind, I can hear Donald Trump suggesting that Christopher Columbus isn’t a hero, and saying something along the lines of, “I like people who don’t get lost.”

The Fussy Little Blog has its own history. And some of the views that I’ve championed in the past seem to no longer fit my present day sensibilities. What better day to come clean than on this contested holiday?

Of course, my issues don’t carry nearly the same gravitas. But still, I think they are worthy of being aired. Especially because I’m still very conflicted about the side on which I stand.

A long time ago, I went on the record to make a strong claim: It’s madness to expect a place that makes good wings to have good pizza. And vice versa. Each requires specialized equipment, a different set of cooking techniques, and totally different ingredients. My argument was that great pizza requires specialization. Great wings require an equal level of focus. Trying to do both is just a distraction.

And there’s some truth to that.

But over the past few years, I’ve really truly embraced the tavern culture of Albany. Some might argue that pizza and wings are not an integral part of the tavern experience, but I would firmly disagree. Pizza and wings are two parts of the holy trinity of taverns. The third, of course, being beer.

If one of the legs from the stool is missing, the whole thing topples over. And the Capital Region’s marvelous taverns are able to knock out solid versions of both. Of course, not all places operate on the same level. Others have stylistic offerings that might not be up your alley.

The Orchard, with its small rectangular pizza topped with sliced brick cheddar is special, and you should try it to get a taste of old Albany. But it may not be for everyone. The same goes for The Towne Tavern’s, wings which are smoked before they are fried. They’re delicious, but certainly not for the purist. Hill Street Cafe makes a thick thick cheese pizza that’s so soaked in fat you might think it’s been fried, and it is a thing of beauty. But it will not satisfy those looking for a New York Style slice. Even the Purple Pub in Watervliet, which is an institution in the town that time forgot, chooses to broil its wings in lieu of the frier.

However they have gone about it, our taverns have come up with a way to serve great wings and pizza. Our places may not top the wings of Buffalo. These taverns won’t be beating the Brooklyn pizza shops in head to head competition. But what our local neighborhood joints have done is brought together these two great foods from the south and western corners of the state, into a warm and cozy environment, so that we could get fat and happy and insulated a bit from the cold and bleak winter that descends every year from November to May.

So while in the past I’ve celebrated great pizza served in the absence of wings (and vice versa), now I’ve come to cherish those places that make it a priority to do both. The Capital Region has converted me to its way of thinking. It’s taken quite a few years, and too many visits to Ralph’s to count. But it has won me over.

Even though I now hold what I consider to be a more enlightened view, I can still look back on where I was a few years back, and see some truth in my old opinions. Things are rarely as black and white as we make them out to be. Most are full of nuance and largely exist in shades of gray.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. buffsoulja permalink
    October 12, 2015 10:57 am

    Sometimes it takes a non-Albany native to see it as it as – well written Dan. Can’t wait for tavern time on the third Thursday!

  2. tom permalink
    October 12, 2015 1:23 pm

    i only wish there was a place that had excellent wings and decent to good pizza. im looking at you The Ruck…

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