Creamy salty savory yummy: Yes, it’s that time of year when there are leftover mashed potatoes in the fridge. Time to make mashed potato, bacon & leek pizza!
If you’re a sucker for red sauce pizza like I am, you might laugh off this one. Do not make such a grievous life error. The Fabulous Honey Parker took her first bite of this pizza and declared, “Holy mother of God!” She may be understating the case.
If you’re always looking for a new and different way to pizza, your leftover Thanksgiving mashed potatoes are going to have a new and fruitful life: Mashed Potato, Bacon & Leek Pizza. Or, as we’re calling it for the moment, The Holy Mother Of Mashup Pizza. Even before I got near to putting this thing together, I mentioned it to Honey, who immediately suggested it would taste much like a potato and cheese pierogi. She’s right. Except it’s even better.
Traveling the world to eat the best pizza, getting paid for it AND collecting frequent flier miles? How do you get THAT gig?
In the pantheon of Modernist Cuisine cookbooks, it seems that Modernist Pizza is the first one with a travelogue. And an engaging, tasty, myth-busting travelogue it is.
In an effort to find the best pizzas on earth, the Modernistas hit what they refer to as the first-generation pizza cities: New York, New Haven, Naples, Buenos Aires and São Paolo. They also ventured to the style-related cities like Chicago, California and Rome. The visited a lot of pizzerias—yet the journey covered only about one one-thousandth of a percent of the world’s total pizza joints.
And once again, there is the potential for fistfights. But it’s hard to argue with such a team of smart people with mad skills making the trek so we don’t have to. Even though we kinda wish we could.
We had the microphones out and were recording an interview with a well-known ad man about his business. At some point, the topic of pizza came up (as it often does). The ad man says, “My friends who make pizza tell me that the secret to making great pizza is getting the dough right. Is that true?”
I tried to answer, but I hesitated. I started answering again—and hesitated. Finally, I said, “Yes. Sort of.” My mind was racing through all the things that can screw up pizza, and bad dough was far from the only one.
It took me a couple of years to realize the reason for my hesitation. After 20 years and easily a thousand pizzas, it finally dawned on me. And it has nothing to do with dough. It has nothing to do with equipment. It has nothing to do with going to Amazon and buying a crappy, $900 outdoor pizza oven and bags of overpriced flour imported from Italy which was probably ground from wheat grown in the United States to begin with.
MIDWEEK MODERNIST PIZZA MEMO: "Modernist Pizza on food snobbery, old-timer's disease, what is pizza, and victims of Culinary Stockholm Syndrome..." (PART II)
When we left you last time, we promised to explain Culinary Stockholm Syndrome, among other things. And shortly, we’ll be doing exactly that—and we’ll be speaking of some important philosophy from the Modernist camp. We just have to do a little more business before getting there.
So, our last “World Of Pizza” observation is that there is no true “Roman style pizza.” Roman “style” actually covers range of styles and lots of hype. The Modernistas believe this is unfair to Rome’s rich culinary tradition. So it goes.
One of the interesting developments here in the land of Modernist Pizza is something that I believe explains a lot of vitriol. There’s a widespread and vocal hatred of Chicago deep-dish pizza exhibited by many. For me, Chicago deep-dish is simply uninteresting. I’ve certainly never said, “I could eat a doorstop right now, but there aren’t any nearby. Where’s the nearest Pizzeria Uno?
Swimming-Pool Pizza Prevention Plan: How To Avoid The Single Most Soaking, Sagging Mistake Of Pizza Night
Let’s talk toppings. One of the big problems with toppings: Swimming-pool pizza. That’s when you load a pizza down with veggies, bake it, and end up with a pizza so wet it should be served with a side of lifeguard chairs.
Water is a culprit that conspires against you in the world of pizza toppings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve said, “How about pepper and onion?” And my wife replies, “Too wet.” (This despite the fact that I solved the “wet” long ago. Wet pizza is the emotional connection that remains a vivid memory like Monet’s Water Lilies on pizza.
MIDWEEK MODERNIST PIZZA MEMO: "Modernist Pizza on food snobbery, old-timer's disease, what is pizza, and victims of Culinary Stockholm Syndrome..." (PART I)
Stockholm syndrome: a condition in which hostages in captivity develop a psychological bond with their captors.
What does that have to do with pizza? We’ll be getting to that. It involves many beloved pizzas and their questionable veracity as exemplars of the craft. It’s all part of Modernist Pizza’s Volume 1, Chapter 2 foray into the "World Of Pizza."
And when they say “world,” they mean it. You can get pizza in almost every country on earth. And they point out the couple of places where you just can’t. (Doesn't that contrarian inside you just want to go to one of those two places and order a pizza?
Mild-mannered medical devices pro by day, wood-fired pizza superhero by night: the story of Jerry Campbell & City Crust.
Most people would just put a wood fired oven in their back yard and be done. Not Jerry Campbell.
By day, Jerry is a mild-mannered sales & marketing pro in medical devices. By night, he’s slinging pies with friends and family from a slick new trailer with a wood-fired pizza oven onboard.
How does a man who has spent his career working with products which help children with scoliosis end up side-hustling as owner and operator of a wood-fired pizza wagon? It pretty much starts exactly where it does with most of us: We want to make pizza for our friends and family. And then it just snowballs until you find yourself going home at night covered in flour.
MIDWEEK MODERNIST PIZZA MEMO: "Pizza History: How Much Of What You Know Is Wrong? Modernist Pizza Breaks It To You Gently."
Word for the day: Apocrypha-- /əˈpäkrəfə/ noun, writings or reports not considered genuine.
The lesson of Modernist Pizza Chapter 1, "Pizza History," could be called: “Beware The Apocrypha,” of which there is much about pizza. The history of pizza is a complicated undertaking—in part because there is very little recorded history of pizza before the mid-1900s.
Pizza is largely undocumented in Italy. That is how there are persistent myths about its stature in Naples. Myths are just about all there is. And those myths have been exploded by the team at Modernist Cuisine
Things historical improve somewhat after pizza’s migration to New York and New Haven. But those things you think you know about pizza’s surging popularity in the United States? They might also be wrong. (Do not credit the GIs who ostensibly experienced pizza in Italy during World War II—a time when there was no flour available.)
Modernist Pizza opens with a history of pizza pursued with a diligence that is impressive. From its roots as a food of the poor, to its disparagement by famous people who visited Italy and found it gruesome, to its evolution into a trendy food item in post-war United States, the team at Modernist Cuisine did their work here. Despite all the remaining question marks, they’ve pieced together a chronicle of everyone’s favorite food and the various styles that evolved.
The archival photography is excellent, especially if you’re interested in historical New York City. From the birth of the nation of Italy through pizza migration to, and evolution in the big pizza cities (New York, New Haven, São Paolo and Buenos Aires among them), this is an epic story stemming from a great Neapolitan diaspora.
Of course, Americans have done all kinds of things to pizza. Yes, that includes chain restaurants and frozen product. But it also includes making it better, making it gourmet, making it more desirable in Italy. (Even prohibition plays a part in pizza. No history of pizza is complete without alcohol.)
Yes, this is just the first chapter of an epic and sprawling multi-volume set. In this chapter, it’s a history book impeccably researched and illustrated. And Chapter 1, “Pizza History,” is comprehensive. It also takes up a full quarter of the entire first volume.
Next installment, Chapter 2: “The World Of Pizza.” Soon. When we get around to it. In a week, I hope.
Blaine Parker is the award-winning author of the new, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza. Also known as The Pizza Geek and "Hey, Pizza Man!", Blaine is fanatical about the idea that true, professional-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After 20 years of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks like you. Are you ready to pizza?
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