Friday, November 4, 2011

Hardtack Pizza Anyone?

   I've heard it over the past few months. Are you still making pizza? Have you been writing your blog? What have you been doing? The answers are, "Yes, I have been making pizza" and "No, I haven't been writing my blogs." Thirdly, I have been engaged in numerous activities but am thinking about the blog regularly.
    Where to start? I guess April of this year I unceremoniously slipped off the pizza radar. Just a brief fill in of my time: We made it back east to Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania where our dear friends, Larry & Andrea from Lancaster, PA picked us up in Baltimore and we drove on down to Culpeper and Fredericksburg, VA to attend the Sesquicentennial (That's the 150th) Anniversary of the Battle of Manassas where the Union got there tails whooped in what was later to be called the great skedaddle. Manassas was the first land battle and the politicians and the socialites with their elegantly dressed ladies came out from Washington some 25 miles away in their buggies in their Sunday best  to see this confederate band of rebels be beaten back and silenced. It didn't happen that way and these civilians who were picnicking near the battlefield were scattered and ran for their lives. We, of course dressed in period costume for the event and were naturally pro-union and were sort of looking forward to skedaddling. (For insurance purposes we weren't allowed to skedaddle).
   While in Culpeper, we ate at a quaint little restaurant called It's About Thyme where I had to ask about the pizza which they told me was cooked next door. The next question I asked was, "From where?" Not Pizza Hut I hoped! No, there sister restaurant was right next door where the pizza oven is used. Whew! I had to order it. Civil War Pizza from a real Civil War town made by real Civil War descendants! It did not disappoint. Baked on a thin crispy crust, a perfect blend of seasonings in the sauce and topped with an excellent quality pepperoni. It was a personal size so I didn't have to share it with the other 6 people at our table. Yes!
   Our friends and we stayed in Fredericksburg the next 3 days while visiting numerous other Civil War sites and even taking in a play about Elvis. Was Elvis in the Civil War? Never mind.
Sheri, myself, Larry & Andrea at the Inn of the Olde Silk Mill in Fredericksburg, VA.
   It had dawned on me prior to leaving on this trip that I should ask our friends if they have any interest in Civil War history being that they live practically in the heart of it. When their honest answer was, "a little," I was surprised and wondered how they couldn't be! My friend Larry asked me in return, "You live in California, do you surf or hang at the beach?" I suppose I should've thought of that as my answer was a somewhat embarrassing "No".  Nevertheless, we sweated in Manassas with record setting 103º heat on top of miserable humidity while watching Stonewall Jackson pounce the Union Army in a lopsided victory. Larry & Andrea even put together their period costumes so we could all blend into the 19th century and root for the Union.
   Sheri and I have become Civil War Re-enactors as of last May and are actual card carrying members of the NCWA. We are civilians and I, being an artist, have assumed the role of a field artist. Sheri, not wanting to become the head of the orphanage, being that she is a teacher, became my assistant and a closet abolitionist handing out propaganda from under her items in a basket that she carries. Some people will ask why I didn't become a soldier in the Union and my answer, other than not wanting to sweat in a wool uniform in 103 degrees, march and take orders is: "I didn't want to march and take orders in the 60's and I still don't want to march and take orders".
   Although we didn't make it to New York to the Big Apple of pizzerias, I did order pizza again in Gettysburg and once again in Baltimore while on this 2 week trip. One might think pizza has been on their menu for the last 150 years as each pizza was different and never disappointing.

   As we go to the local Civil War re-enactments in California we always cook and eat as close to period food as possible. Lots of stew, potatoes, vegetables cooked over an open fire in iron pots with iron utensils, plus bread or cornbread, peach cobbler for dessert and maybe some wine or sarsparilla (spelled 3 different ways BTW) to wash it all down. Since pizza was not yet officially a staple item in the soldiers diets nor did it even exist back in 1863 I am still trying to figure out a way to make a pizza at one of our re-enactments and give it a Civil War era twist over an open fire! Maybe a hardtack crust (Hardtack was commonly supplied by the military to the troops). Side note: Hardtack was a hard flour and water cracker baked and shipped to the troops in the field without preservatives so by the time the hardtack was distributed it always was hard as nails and commonly called by the troops, teeth-dullers, sheet iron and worm castles (since it often had maggots in it). Probably one more reason not to become a soldier in the Union or Confederacy! However, I could top the hardtack with some foraged tomatoes and top that with some curdled milk and beef jerky. Sounds pretty disgusting. Maybe I will have to avoid that idea and just go AWOL to the nearest pizzeria to get my pizza fix. Huzzah for the North, and Huzzah for their pizza!

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