Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Captain Ahab vs Pizza Chef

I finally gave up on King Arthur and Lancelot flour being available in large quantities around Sacramento. What I decided I needed was just a decent quality high gluten flour to make the type of New York pizzas I had envisioned. Now this is where it got confusing to me. We all know what Chicago deep dish pizza is because it so vastly different than what we are use to especially in California. I had been to New York City and have eaten at one of the little pizzerias in Manhattan not far from Carnegie Hall. They give you a huge slice of pizza that they just drizzled olive oil on it and hand it to you on a wax paper. The proper way to eat it is fold it over like a taco and stick the end of it in your mouth like you would a hot dog. Californians don't eat their pizza that way because we tend to bake it on a thicker crust and not fold it because we slice it narrower and therefore it doesn't need the fold to give it rigidity. However, as different as it is it is still a New York style pizza whether it's thick, thin or medium. It appears though that Californians have developed their own style of pizza when you see all the non traditional type toppings we put on our pizza from artichoke hearts to baby corn, mountains of arugula and avocado to probably yogurt and trail mix.
I love the episode of Seinfeld where Kramer got into an argument with Poppy because he put cucumber slices on his pizza. Poppy says that's not a pizza with cucumber slices on it. They argue about toppings and Poppy says the moment you put it into the oven it's a pizza. Kramer argued that it wasn't a pizza until you take it out of the oven. It was a blatant jab at the pro lifers and pro choicers in the form of pizza. Of course the issue was not resolved.
Getting back to my pizza though, I had visions of a pizza with a firm crust and shapely curves that accentuated an already sublime figure and not carrying any excess weight. Yes, I'm still talking about pizza ;-) The only hope I had left was the high gluten flour and finally in my searches through 'smart and finals' and 'cash and carries' I had found a 50 lb bag of high gluten flour for under $20. This was going to be my Moby Dick. I would sink or swim.
Not to prolong the tension and add to the enormous amount of drama I am creating here but the pizza was hugely successful and my life would now be easier, or so I thought. After I baked it I knew immediately I had found the holy grail of pizza flour. The crust is described as rustic that was airy like a sourdough and tasty with a crunch. It stood almost an inch thick on the edges and I think was alive. I rushed to get my camera before the moment escaped me as I waited for it to deflate like a proud quiche once a witness laid eyes on it but it didn't! It stood there in perfect form accepting my accolades. I had graduated to pizza chef.

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