Pizza, Done Right

Here’s the first pizza I ever made, from stem to stern, crust to toppings, all handmade:

I still think about the taste:  peppery olive oil, fragrant thyme, and the pleasing bite of a partially charred onion.  What made it so memorable?  Simplicity.  I didn’t have mountains of cheese, convoluted toppings, or thick sauce.  That first pizza had no puppy dog eagerness to please, it was simple and honest.  Which isn’t to say all the pizzas I’ve made since then are rubbish.  But I need to get back to that.

Good thing that I got this for my birthday:

I’ve been fussing about with bread for a while and have always seen pizza as a way to make a quick homemade dinner.  Oh, I’ve been foolish.  It can be so much more than that.  If you get this book, be sure to read it from the beginning.  If you just dive into the recipes you’re missing the quest at the beginning for the perfect pizza.  As you follow along with author Peter Reinhart, you’ll begin to smell the cosy thick smoke from wood-fired ovens, taste the wheaty and charred crust, and see the tendrils of steam snaking up from a perfectly-made pizza.  The first part of this book is all about the love of handcrafted food, combining two things I love most.

Now I’ve opened the door to a new world of food and will never be the same.  Baking pizza for friends and family has been one of my great joys.  It’s different from baking bread because the whole process is live.  The best kitchen has room for people to stand around and chat with a drink in their hand while I spread out some dough, toss on a few toppings, slide it onto the stone with a jerk of the peel, then pull out dinner in under five minutes.  Making pizzas is alchemy, nothing less.  With American Pie, I’ve got one of the premier spellbooks.

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3 comments
  1. Erin Michel said:

    I agree with what I think you’re saying here about what really makes a pizza good; it’s not about mounds of sloppy toppings in a cardboard box, it is about the senses, the tactile and social experience of creating a meal that is rustic, loved, shared. My husband and I make pizzas at home using store-bought dough, and while I am eager to try making our own, the process- from prep to serve- is still so interactive that it never fails to satisfy.

    Thanks for the book recommendation.

  2. I think Erin’s hit on something important here: hands-on kitchen time. The rewarding thing about pizza is that you can assemble, bake, and eat in under an hour. Which means you could drink two pints and still have time for dessert!

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