My friend Tom, the aspiring pizzaiolo whom you met last week, seizes every chance to try and browbeat me into making a pie. "Enough with the pastas already," he harangues, implying that pasta making is, at best, a dubious skill. "You love pizza. You should make pizza. What's wrong with you?"
I told you he was a pain in the ass, didn't I?
In the couple decades I have known him, though, not once had his bullying proved successful. Until now.
Last week, after an item entitled "Roman-style pizza farce" appeared on this blog, an item where I may have mildly criticized his pizza-making abilities, my vowel-deprived compatriot managed to whip himself into an uncontrollable frenzy. Like a good man suddenly possessed (think Father Damien in "The Exorcist" except not as cute), Tom decided that he simply would not rest until I attempted to reproduce a pie he'd made, so as to see if I might make it as well.
He emailed to me his demands, commented upon them on this blog, Skyped me incessantly to argue his case fully (and freely); the cheap bastard even picked up the phone one afternoon just to insist — insist I tell you — that I walk a mile in his King Arthur-dusted kitchen clogs before so recklessly stomping on them again.
I worry about my friend. And believe he isn't well. His blood pressure is not so good and so he must be medicated. Did I mention that he drinks? Probably shouldn't have. Forget I said anything, okay.
And so, after consulting, on Tom's behalf of course, an eminent mental health specialist in Vienna (or maybe it was Moonachie?), I decided to do the responsible thing and to make a freaking pizza, so that my dear, afflicted friend could just finally calm down.
Here's how it started, a dough made with "00" and all purpose flour, adapted from a recipe provided by none other than my nemesis (thanks, nemesis). I'm not sure about this, but methinks it did not rise quite enough, as the dough turned out to be a bit dense. (That, or Tom is one very fine saboteur masquerading as an innocent bearer of alleged-to-be-simple pizza dough recipes.)
Into a baking pan (per Tom's Roman-inspired method) and topped with a quick fresh tomato sauce and fresh mozzarella (that's a type of cheese, Tommy).
Fifteen or so minutes in the oven at 550, and there you go.
The "upskirt" shot: Considering that this was my first completely solo attempt at pizza-making, I would argue that it turned out pretty well. It tasted good. But the crust didn't char properly, and the dough, as I said, was more dense than it ought to be.
An associate (one with strong ties to Tom, I might add) offered a less encouraging assessment: "It's definitely not the worst I've had."
There was enough dough to attempt a do-over, but instead I went in another direction. Just garlic, fresh rosemary, fresh mozzarella and olive oil.
Tasted even better than the first one, but, alas, the dough was of the same (defective) lineage.
You may commence with the brutal criticism now, Tommy. Just watch your blood pressure, okay.
And don't call me. Please!