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Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The "Best Pizza In The United States" Story

Norma Knepp speading pepperoni on a pizza.
It was an ordinary day.  Standing in line at Norma's Pizza waiting to buy a few pieces of her New York style pizza.  Her stand is tucked into a small spot near the corner of Building #4 at Root's Country Market & Auction in East Petersburg, Pennsylvania.  Root's Market is the oldest single family-run country market in Lancaster County, beginning in 1925 as a poultry auction.  Today, the Tuesday only market offers fresh food, produce as well as fresh meats, a variety of other items for sale in both indoor and outdoor stands and naturally, the poultry and small animal auction.  
Norma's trophy
Many of the stands are run by Amish families from Lancaster County.  Well, it was back in mid-January that Norma Knepp, the owner/operator of the tiny market stand called Norma's Pizza, traveled to New York to compete in the annual Caputo Cup competition to determine who in the United States made the best New York Style pizza.  The Caputo Cup competition has been held annually in Italy for many years, but recently expanded the competition to the United States.  Norma had to compete against pizza bakers from all corners of the United States, and naturally New York.  Over 100 chefs entered and placed their best pizza recipes on the pizza stone for the judges to taste.  In front of me today, on Norma's counter, stands the First Place Trophy which she proudly displays.  The woman who runs a very small country market stand, which is only open one day a week in the middle of farm fields in Lancaster, County, and is only two years younger than me, beat competition from all over the U.S.!!  Now that's an accomplishment.  
My fellow pizza lovers waiting in line with me.
I asked if she would mind if I took a few photos as I waited in line and she told me to shoot away.  I watched as she made a pizza and popped it in her oven.  Then she pulled another pizza from the oven and spread some pepperoni slices onto it as I snapped a photo.  Norma tells little about the dough and sauce she makes as we speak of her recipe she used to win the competition.  Finally, I am at the head of the line and just then the sign comes out telling the rest of us in line that the pizza is gone for the day.  I can smell some cooking, but the girl helping Norma tells me the pizzas in the oven had been ordered earlier in the day and that I will have to try again next Tuesday.  Seems that ever since Norma won her award, business  has been booming.  Two weeks of no pizza in a row will make me consider to either order an entire pizza or to get in line after breakfast.  It was another extraordinary day in the life of an ordinary guy.   




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