Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Roman-style pizza farce

True friends stab you in the front.
—Oscar Wilde

If you're one of those people who reads the "Comments" on blogs (I am) and who does much reading of this particular blog (I hope you do), then you may already be familiar with my friend Tom. He's the pain-in-the-ass who, commenting under a variety of different names, often will go out of his way to make me look bad.

He has accused me of recklessly devouring endangered species (not true), rigging taste tests to advance my personal favorites (also a filthy lie), championing food items he deems putrid and disgusting (sfogliatelle, for instance). Hell, he's even talked trash about my Sainted Mother — and she's not even alive to give him a good smack and tell him to "shuttup already!"

He's a bad one, this Tom. The capo di tutti curmudgeon. It's a wonder he has any friends at all.

And yet, ruthless as he may be, the man makes some very fine pizza. Often he makes his very fine pizza for me.

A couple of days ago I got an email from Tom. In the subject line were two words he knew would be intriguing to me: "Roman-style."

Turns out that Tom had been sampling the pizza al taglio (by the slice) at the recently opened Campo de' Fiori in Brooklyn, where he lives, and found himself inspired to bake his own square Roman-style pie. (He was no doubt aided in this endeavor by his trusted companion, the lovely Beth, a fine baker of all things, though he did not choose to mention this.) Knowing my fondness for pizza and for Rome, where they buy their pizza by weight, not by slice, he decided to photo-document the event and then forward the pics to me.

But there are risks in releasing such documents — made more perilous when you release them to the man you have poked at and prodded for months, sometimes viciously and always in a public forum.

With age, I have learned, wisdom does not always come.

And so here I give you my friend Tom's version of "Roman-style" pizza — only this time I get to comment on his work. Feel free to join in. He's a big boy, and can (probably) take it.

TOM (via the aforementioned email) Forget wet doughs. I actually kneaded this with my own two paws. Part whole wheat, too.
MM Whole wheat! Are you serious? Geez, Tommy, why not slip into your organic-cotton overalls and swing by the food co-op for a reusable shopping bagful of acai berries! Grow a pair, would you, and make a real pizza dough.

TOM Docked the dough so it wouldn't puff up too much in this beat-up and brown cookie sheet.
MM My, my, what a cute little plastic toy you have there, Tommy. Can I borrow it to spell out funny words in the sand? Maybe next time you can use it to make a Sonny Corleone-at-the-toll-plaza cookie. (You punch the bullet holes into Sonny with the toy, get it? I didn't think so. Hey, Beth, how do you live with this clown? Has he even seen "The Godfather?")

TOM Tomato sauce is standard but the cheese is asiago, havarti and Argentinean parm.
MM I don't know why I should expect better from a man with only one vowel in his name. (Actually, only one vowel in each of his three names.) Looks like Ragu to me, Tom. And you have heard of mozzarella? I've never eaten a pizza in Rome with those cheeses on it. (Back me up here, Joe.) You oughta be ashamed.

TOM Only took 12 minutes to bake at 550.
MM Big freaking deal. One time I ate two sacks of White Castles in less time than that. I don't get your point.

TOM Plenty of olive oil in the pan virtually fried the crust crispy and not too bready. Just right.
MM I'd give you props for presented this pizza in a manner that is similar to the way many Romans eat it (two slices joined cheese side to cheese side) but my bet is that you don't know what I'm talking about. As for the pizza, well, Roscioli it ain't. But... Well, alright, it looks pretty good. Fine, it looks better than pretty good. Happy now?

MM Next time you're up the house I expect you to make me a couple of these pies, Tommy. Only let me give you some of my sauce, okay. And the flour. And cheese.

I've got way more vowels than you have. And they count for something.


Jeannie said...

You guys are hilarious! And yeah, wouldn't mind a piece of that pizza too!

Claudia said...

Well... I hve had pizza with asiago in Italy... hmmm - havarti? Really? But I must say I'd take a slice...or two.

WFG said...

Ach du lieber!

Whole wheat? Dry dough? Argentinian cheese?

A pan??????

Thomas Henry Strenk said...

Finally! A pizza recipe on the site!

Let's see your version, Mr. M!

Anonymous said...

Omg that pizza looks amazing! I am really hungry now.

PizzaPolice said...

Funny post here and the pizza looks scrumptious, but HAVARTI CHEESE? Are you guys TRYING to go STRAIGHT TO HELL????

Mister Meatball said...

See that, Tommy. Not only did your stupid cheese get us in dutch with the cops, but now we're both goin to hell!!!

I want my Sainted Mommy!!!

Thomas Henry Strenk said...

Let's not get crazy.
It's just food; you eat it, you excrete it.
Forget the pizza moniker.
I baked bread with tomato sauce and some kind of cheese on top.
Whatever you call it, it was tasty!

Pat @ Mille Fiori Favoriti said...

The best pizza comes from Brooklyn! It's a proven fact that it is the water we have here. Same thing with bagels.

Anonymous said...

As a proud (although now former) Brooklynite, it is NOT the water. Numerous scientific tests have proven that Brooklyn's water simply doesn't change the end baking process.

Bagels? The problem with many non-New York bagels is that they don't even boil the product at all. So it's not the lack of the proper water, it's the assumption that a bagel is just a doughy donut.

Pizza? America is full of great pizza now. Substandard pizza these days is hardly to do with water. It's about poor cooking procedures and substandard ingredients. Have you tasted the cheese and oils some so-called pizza joints use? Water should be their biggest problem...

Clarke said...

So we know all the ingredients. We know what temperature the pie was cooked at. We know the crust was crispy but not doughy. But fer cryin' out loud, how'd it taste?

Anonymous said...

Tom, I´d love to try all those things. How about some Czech food? Come to Czech and get some secret recipes. Maybe you could be the first person cooking in my new kitchen :-)

Anonymous said...

I forgot to sign...
Olga :-)

Jacque said...

This is so funny. Miss you all.