Yesterday, I had a very long and brilliant conversation with Peter Reinhart.
Today, we were going to be providing some basic tips for the home pizzamaker.
That is not happening. I was sidetracked by charity.
About a month ago, yours truly committed to doing a favor for a local 501(c)(3) here in Bay St. Louis. The non-profit is based in a 100-year-old structure that used to be a nightclub on the Chitlin Circuit.
If you’re not familiar with the Chitlin Circuit, think of as kind of like the Borscht Belt, but for African-Americans.
During an era of racial segregation in the US, Chitlin Circuit performance venues meant commercial and cultural acceptance for African American musicians and comedians.
The place here in town is called 100 Men Hall DBA. On the venue’s website, the “About Us” section states, “The 100 Men Hall was founded in 1894 by 12 civic-minded African American Bay Saint Louis residents who organized under the name ‘Hundred Members Debating Benevolent Association’ in order to ‘assist its members when sick, bury its dead in a respectable manner, and knit friendship.’”
In 1922, a cornerstone was laid, the current structure was built, and 100 Men Hall DBA is now found on the map of the Mississippi Blues Trail.
Today, it’s a performance venue that welcomes a wide range of performers, often with some relevance to the Mississippi Blues Trail. Artists from nearby New Orleans come around, and there are weekend-long events—like Bookerfest in honor of piano great James Booker who grew up here in Bay St. Louis. (Dr. John once referred to Booker as “the best black, gay, one-eyed junkie piano genius New Orleans has ever produced.” No faint praise from The Night Tripper.)
The Hall has hosted the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. NAACP Banquet, music festivals, artist-in-residence programs, and other events for the community at large.
Anyway, today is the 100 Men Hall’s board meeting. The proprietor, Rachel Dangermond, cannot eat wheat. But during a community happy hour last month, some Free The Pizza pies showed up on the potluck table. Rachel took a flyer, tried the pie, had no reaction adverse to the crust, and was greatly pleased. She asked if I would provide pizza for the board meeting’s lunch and I agreed.
Because, you know, pizza was a Chitlin Circuit staple. (The Hall routinely has local businesses there with soul food and other indigenous cuisine. Maybe it was time for a change.)
Anyway, instead of finishing today’s blog post, I spent the morning making a passel o’ pizza. Next week we will return to something resembling our regularly scheduled pizza-making nonsense.
If you’d like to learn more about 100 Men Hall DBA, click here.
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?
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