Tuesday, July 6, 2010

No Cheese Oil, Cheez-el

I have this habit that just comes out when I get excited at one point during the process of making a pizza. It usually happens when the pizza is already in the oven and I peek inside to see how it's doing. If the dough has risen correctly, my timing in using the dough was spot on and the crust is just starting to turn that golden brown and I start to speak in tongues! No, not like biblical tongues but maybe a more accurate assessment would be I get excited and I start speaking in a bad Italian accent. The wave of heat that escapes from the oven and blasts me in the face usually sets me off. I will close the door quickly and start telling myself out loud in this pseudo-Italian accent: "Vincenzo, you uh make uh one uh helluva peezza, you know? Everybuddys gonna like uh deez uh peeza. It's a gonna be da besta peeza you ever make uh, you know?"

Usually every sentence will end in the phrase, "you know?" Someone told me when I started to make pizzas that there is a little bit of Italian in all of us. I think they may be right. I don't actually recall if I ever have spoken in a bad Spanish accent when making tamales or a bad British when I'm making steak & ale pies. It makes me wonder why the Italian accent. I know I'm bad at it but I can't help but think of this client I had once on a paint job. It was the Ferrari family who owned this Italian deli that had hired me to paint their house. One day when we were there power washing, his brother-in-law who must've just come over from the old country brings out this twisted, gnarled grape vine of about 75 plus years that he had ideas of using it somehow as a piece of furniture. I shut off the power washer and wait for him to speak up. He says in his very hard to understand Italian accent, "Can uh you uh wash uh deeza for me. I uh try ev'ryting, you know? I uh try soaking it, I uh try a scraping it, I even try uh cheese oil.
Nothing works, you know?" I said to him, "cheese oil? You tried cheese oil?" "No cheese oil, cheez-el,  cheez-el.""Ohhhh, chisel, you tried chisel." At this point I almost have to turn the power washer back on so he doesn't hear me laughing at my own misunderstanding. I gave it a shot and cleaned up his grape vine for him and maybe even removed all the remaining cheese oil that might have been on it. Of course as soon as he left I had to stop everything and tell my crew so we would all get a good laugh out of it. Now, some 20 years later when something is stuck or difficult to remove I usually will suggest some cheese oil to remove it. I'm not certain where you get cheese oil, from cheese I suppose but what if I wanted to buy some? Would I have to go back to the Old Country to get it? Maybe I could start bottling it and marketing it. Vincenzo's original Cheese Oil. Removes everything except bark from grape vines.
    As for speaking in tongues, maybe it's because of the optimistic and uplifting sound that an Italian accent has. I remember Steve Martin said, "you can't play a sad tune on a banjo. It's just too happy of an instrument and if Richard Nixon had played a banjo then things might have turned out differently for him." I think the same applies when I start speaking in a bad Italian accent. It's an indicator that that pizza is uh gonna be uh good uh one, you know?

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