“Oh, I know this is the right way to do it. But I don’t have time for that.” Yes, that is an actual quote. It wasn’t said about pizza, but it might as well have been. Pizza is so simple, yet for some people that seems impossible. They want to make pizza defy the rules of time, space and biology.
It’s OK to not want to make pizza. But it’s not OK to have a desire to do it while maintaining a hatred for giving nature the time required to do the job well. Do the job badly, and why would you ever want to do it again. Have you ever made something in the kitchen and thought, “That’s disappointing. Let’s do it again tomorrow!”
Need a pizza right away? Pick up the phone. You’re not going to suddenly whip up a pizza (well, not a good one) by slapping together a bunch of raw ingredients in your kitchen in 30 minutes or less. And that’s fine. The reason and the reward are all part of the same, glorious goal of freeing the pizza.
Pizza is a process that requires allowing biology to do its thing. Great pizza dough is the product of tiny fungi getting busy and turning a lump of flour, water and salt into a canvas for comestibles that tantalize your tongue and warm the cockles of your heart (if you even know what cockles are or whether you have any heart left--sometimes I wonder about myself).
That kind of yeast-driven magic doesn’t happen at the snap of the fingers. But it can be close at hand if you prepare properly. For instance, it’s not unusual to open my freezer and find half a dozen dough balls of various sizes. There are bags of frozen sauce. In the fridge’s cheese drawer, there are several blocks of mozzarella and a couple of wedges of Parmesan and Romano. In the cold cuts bin are at least a couple of cured meats. Almost always, one of them is Spanish chorizo, my go-to pepperoni alternative.
If I want to make a pizza tonight, it can happen with about four hours notice. It takes time to thaw that dough. (Don’t use the microwave. I’ve tried it. Save yourself.)
But making good dough from scratch can’t be done in an hour. And embracing that part of the magic fermentation process called pizza is what it takes to do the deed. People will try to tell you otherwise. They are not freeing the pizza. They’re enslaving themselves to the blind greed of the time-crunch culture.
Pizza is a transformation of mundane ingredients into a joyous eating experience. As such, it will not allow us to rush things. It forces us to slow down. It’s part of the system and part of the poetry that is pizza.
Think “poetry” is overstating the case? Consider this: poetry is the crystallization of a moment. It is words brought to bear on being evocative. A perfectly poetic moment is a slice of time or life caught in a stage of clarity that sparks the imagination. Come on, you know why the caged bird sings. And the reason is probably bigger than just pizza or anything else happening in our kitchens.
A bite of brilliant pizza is also a crystalline moment. When you take that first fabulous taste and savor the sequence of flavors that make your tongue do a tango, enlivening your soul just a little more, well—that is arguably a poetic moment.
If it’s the right pizza, of course. And this is not a rant against fast-delivery pizza. It has its place and its devotees. But if we’re going to be making pizza, if we’re going to the trouble of building this bridge between our food and other people, it’s worth taking the time to engineer it properly.
And doing that requires patience. Whether it’s the days required to ferment a batch of dough, or the hours required to thaw one of the resulting dough balls, it’s worth the wait.
The world is in a rush for us to do everything else. Why not take the time do justice to pizza and poetry?
Want the free dough recipe from the forthcoming Free The PIzza book? Just click here.
Free the pizza!
Blaine Parker is the award-winning author of the bestselling, 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, pro-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?
When you click those links to Amazon (and a few other sites we work with), and you buy something, you are helping this website stay afloat, and you're helping us have many more glorious photographs of impressive pizza.