Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Our Family's First Pizza Ever: Sammy's


Our Mom, Helen Irene Pederson, was raised by Norwegian immigrants. Her parents, Anna and Jens (reverend James O.) ate traditional norwegian foods. Yellow Split pea soup, homemade breads, lots of boiled potatoes, lefse, torsk (cod, fishballs along with some hams, some herring, some cheeses and some meatballs. It was very, very traditional and there were many days when you dined at the Pederson house that your plate was pure white - white fish, white potatoes, white herring, white cheese, white lefse. Frankly, I find that pure comfort food because that is the type of cooking my Mom did too - she did throw in a few veggies from time to time though and even a little tomato sauce...


It wasn't until Helen was at least 18 years old and engaged to be married that she first tried Pizza - can you believe that? Sammy's pizza was the first pizza in Duluth, Minnesota and it's been there for 50 years or more. Here's a picture of Sammy in west Duluth - heck that could have been my Mom outside the window watching him bake up some "pies". (probably isn't!)
Sammy's pizza was my first taste of Pizza - I had it when I was a kid. It is still available today and it's distinctive taste and little squares of pizza bring back floods of memories of the new phenomena of "pizza night" at my little family's house. Eating pizza with my Dad's family including Grandma and Vicki was commonplace - though my Norwegian Pederson grandparents NEVER ate it - it was too weird for them.
Here's the history of Sammy's Pizza from their website:
In the early 1950s, few people on Minnesota’s Iron Range even knew what pizza was. But when Sam Perrella, owner of a small café in Keewatin, heard stories from World War II veterans about favorite foods they’d discovered while serving in Italy, he decided to investigate. He spent a short time in Chicago (where he picked up on the idea of square cut slices), then – working with his wife Louise – they combined some traditional family recipes with their own special touches.
Grandpa Sam moved his small café to the larger, neighboring town of Hibbing in 1954, and Sammy’s Pizza was born. During the next few years, he brought more and more family into the business, and later welcomed in the family of his best friend, Nick Jerulle.

Over the years, the tastes and traditions of Sammy’s Pizza have gained an almost cult-like following, as devoted Sammy’s lovers have developed their own traditions around the pizza and the restaurants. Today it’s nice to know that three generations and more than 20,000,000 pizzas later, the popularity of Sammy’s Pizza is stronger than ever.

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