My office is two blocks from Pizza Aroma, owned by Mauricio, who left his home country, El Salvador, to find freedom from war and poverty. I haven’t experienced poverty really, although I was on Medicaid and food stamps for a year when my two daughters were very young and my husband a graduate student.
Until eight years ago, I wouldn’t go out for lunch in order to save money; better spent on traveling or my family. When my psychotherapy business grew despite the 2008 recession, so did my friendship with Mauricio, occasionally enjoying a slice of one of his gourmet pizzas. Imagine a salad pizza: spinach, artichokes, black olives, onions, red peppers, adorned with sprinkled parmesan cheese in balsamic dressing.
I’ve lost count as to how many years I have lunched 3-4 times a week at Pizza Aroma, smiling in return to Mauricio’s black-mustached smile; his delight in slicing fresh cut garlic on my requested Sicilian, or avocados on my black-bean slice.
I like the feeling of giving back to an immigrant who not only creates great pizza slices but also gives America a slice of delicious diversity.