Sunday, January 17, 2010

pizza, or, the food of the gods

Okay, so there's no seitan in this post. No meat substitutes of any kind, actually. Just pizza. And a shameless plug for Price Chopper, which surprises me even as I type.

Pizza might possibly be, hands down, my most favorite ever food. It's just ... perfect. Good pizza, anyway. We left Brooklyn for a rural New England town a couple years ago, which significantly limited my choice of pizza. Somewhat surprisingly, this town has more pizza restaurants than any other kind ... but there's no comparison. For starters, most of the pizzerias here sell what I've heard called Greek style pies: thicker, oilier crusts. I'm a thin crust kind of girl; I like hand-stretched, thin-as-possible crusts, chewy rather than oily. But more importantly, most of them here, well, suck. They just aren't any good. And that makes me sadder than it probably should ... or not. It is pizza.

We were directed by a friend to try Pizzeria X here, assured that it was far superior. We ordered a margherita pizza and baked ziti, of which I am also quite fond. With anticipation, I opened the boxes. This pizza crust was too perfectly circular, creepily round and pale. It looked like cardboard. It tasted like cardboard. The sauce was tomato paste, and the cheese was plasticky, flavorless and, well, not actually discernible as cheese. As for the baked ziti - it was an overcooked lump of penne pasta with more of the same cheese melted atop. It had formed a solid sort of cheese crust (without being crusty ... more of its plasticine characteristics, I suppose) so that when I put my fork into it, the entire mass lifted up as one piece. I started to cry. I felt silly, sitting outside a pizzeria crying over bad food, but the whole thing was just so depressing.

Obviously, we never again went to Pizzeria X (and also found out that it isn't so much that my friend liked their food so much as she liked the guy who runs the place). There are better places here, and we order from them occasionally, but I cannot shake my feeling of disappointment. I always want it to be better than it is, but it isn't

So here's the shameless plug for Price Chopper. On a whim, I snagged a couple bags of their fresh pizza dough, thinking that it would probably be okay if not particularly good. I was wrong: Price Chopper fresh pizza dough is fantastic. How, I don't know, but it is.

I've tried making dough at home before and never been satisfied. I couldn't get the crust as thin as I'd like, plus it seemed to lack the tang that good pizza dough has. But, this dough (and it does also come in whole wheat for you healthier folks) is fabulous. It stretches out to paper-thinness: I could see through it as I stretched it and lay it on the pizza wheel. And yummy, oh so yummy! The crust is chewy without being dense, and it has that slight sourness that makes good crusts really good.

I topped it with some pizza sauce, fresh mozzarella, basil and oil cured black olives. I wish I had more, but I was forced to share and so we had no leftovers. But, maybe again tonight ... maybe red onions and feta and seitan sausage, just so I don't forget about seitan for too long.

Oh, pizza. I love you so.


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