The first bite of a slice is a fantastic experience for all five senses.
From the moment you open that warm box and get a waft of garlic, basil, buttery cheese, and cardboard, it’s undeniable your sense of smell, sight, sound, touch, and taste are in for an epic treat.
It all begins, as your eyes flicker back and forth making an initial scan for the best slice—searching for the piece where the toppings fall in the just the right places—the perfect pepperoni count—maybe even one with those pepperoni slivers that get lodged in the extra cheese that spills into the canyons created by the pizza cutter.
Next, you gingerly pick up your chosen slice. You pinch a dry corner of flour-dusted crust—you can feel the heat emitting from the molten cheese and grease that sieges it.
You let out a gentle, whispered blow, your mouth slightly whistling as your breath sends steam rolling off of it—simultaneously cooling it down and speeding up eating time.
Finally, the best part, your sensory pleasure cruise crescendos as you open up wide and your teeth and gums plunge into melty cheese—unleashing grease that graces the roof of your mouth. The sauce and toppings mix as your lips close around them—all of the elements merging together into a harmonious collision. The lapping of your tongue fusing together the flavors into a compacted ball of pizza mush with each gyration of your jaw.
There’s nothing quite like that first bite and usually, it’s gone before I think twice.
Recently I witnessed my 1-year-old son frantically scarfing down his dinner as fast as humanly possible. Prior to that, for about half an hour, he had whined for it, moaned and groaned for it and then as soon as he had it, down it went in the blink of an eye.
“Slow down and enjoy it, buddy” I commented.
Then, I paused and pondered those words for a second: slow down and enjoy it?
I thought about when I get that pizza box in front of me and my taste buds are about to be stormed with a deluge of salty goodness, I quite often go HAM and just devour it all as well.
Maybe I’m the one who needs to slow down?
Shouldn’t I savor my favorite moments?
Perhaps I could reach new levels of pizza eating enjoyment if I just paid more attention?
Taking that first bite to another level.
Best-selling author and reformed stock market manipulator Jordan Belfort (portrayed by Leonardo Dicaprio in the film The Wolf of Wall Street (no worries, he says he only uses his powers for good now)) takes that idea one step further in his recent book on persuasion Way of the Wolf.
In the book, he describes a process called “neuro-linguistic programming” in which he explains we can achieve a primed state on demand by honing in on our senses while in a moment of success. The theory says that we can condition ourselves using sensory experiences to create behavioral patterns.
In essence, it works by connecting powerful emotions to memories, similar to the way we get the warm and fuzzies when we smell fresh cut grass in the summer, cookies around Christmas or pizza straight from the oven. When we experience those sensations we get transported right back to the time we enjoyed them.
So, the idea behind Belfort’s concept is to manufacture that effect by concentrating on the most intricate details of the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and feelings when we are in “the zone”. By doing that we can create a connection or an “anchor” to that moment. We can then call upon that “anchor” by using whatever sensation we connected it to and in doing so trigger our A-game when we need it.
So, looks like I’m carrying around pizza seasoning in my pocket from now on.
What pizza taught me:
I don’t know if romanticizing pizza will help me reach my ideal state, but slowing down and cherishing that first bite made me realize how close to perfection pizza already is.
What I’m eating: Marco’s Pizza: hand-tossed old world pepperoni pizza
What I’m reading: Jordan Belfort Way of the Wolf: Straight Line Selling: Master the Art of Persuasion, Influence, and Success