A note to my loyal readers:
(the rest of you can skip this, if you like)
I apologize for abandoning you lo these many weeks, but I am writing a book. I’m actually writing two books, which is daunting, to say the least. When I sit down at the computer I feel I must work on one or the other or my intricately larded Jewish guilt will ooze out and consume me. I realize that Jews and lard don’t usually go together in the same sentence, but in my life they do.
Easter Monday is known as Pasquetta in Italy and it’s a holiday all its own. It’s another day off from work and traditionally one that’s spent outside to celebrate the arrival of spring.
We were invited to a pizza picnic at Carlo and Sylvia’s new house to officially inaugurate their wood-burning oven. The renowned pizzaiolo, Bruce, traveled all the way from Eggi and I was his trusty assistant — with the help of Carlo, JoJo, Stefano and many others.
Just a note about the dough, which we made the day before — we use 1/3 “00” flour to 2/3 “0” flour, yeast, salt and water. No oil. The recent New York Times article about pizza dough made with olive oil is odd. A little fat in pie dough to make it flaky is a wonderful thing. I love flaky pie dough — the way it dissolves in your mouth along with the sweet filling. Flaky is great in a pie dough. But pizza needs to hold together; pizza wants to have a chew; pizza wants to have a crunch. I mean, if you want to make pizza dough with oil, go ahead — but it won’t be any good.
On Pasquetta, we made pizzas both with tomato and without; we made them with cheese and without; we made them with sausage, with prosciutto, with onion and garlic; we made them with odd little greens that were foraged on the hillsides. But best of all, in my humble opinion, was the pizza we made with quail eggs. Here’s Bruce’s description of how it went down:
“Nyla brought some quail eggs and then we made a white pizza with ricotta and zucchini blossoms and maybe some onion. No tomato. No mozzarella. I popped that in the oven and then after a few minutes when the crust had set, Carlo, Nyla and I pulled it out and cracked 6 or 7 eggs on top and then put it back in for a while longer.
I think, were we to do it again, we’d wait even longer before putting the eggs in – more soft than hard-boiled.
(Or we could do it from scratch — put bacon on first and then call it an English Breakfast Pizza.) :-)”
Bruce, as I said, is a master pizzaiolo.