Saturday night we had dinner with Michelangelo and Rossella and their daughter, Anna. Rossella made pizza, pizza, and more pizza. Remember how many times I’ve eaten pizza? Well, I outdid myself on Saturday. She made four pizzas and we ate all of them. Completely.
I’ve tried to make pizza and had OK results. It’s not something I had the time to devote to before when I was a working stiff, but now that I’m living the good life in Tuscany, maybe I’ll revisit it. Especially now that I’ve had a lesson with Rossella. Her pizza dough was excellent – thin, but sturdy, crispy, but with enough chewiness. She gave me the recipe and a little bonus of my own batch of dough to take home. I put it in the freezer because I think it might be a few days before I can face pizza again.
One of the things that made her pizza so good was the shocking amount of cheese she used. As in hardly any. There is a definite protocol as to what ingredients go together – for example, she asked if we like onions. Yes, I said, so she made a pizza with onions. And that’s it. Crust with onion slices sprinkled with salt, pepper, and some souped up version of Italian seasoning. And a healthy drizzle of olive oil. That’s it – no sauce, no cheese, only onions and that magnificent pizza dough. It was divine. She made one with tomato sauce and half was olives, anchovies, and cheese, and the other half was what we would call pepperoni and cheese. Pepperoni here refers to peppers, so if you ever see that on a menu, it’s not what you think. What we know as pepperoni is one of the many types of salumi here. One with half tomato sauce with salumi, olives, and cheese, and the other half prosciutto, cheese, and arugula (my personal favorite). Then there was the onion pizza and a garlic pizza. This one was interesting – tomato sauce sprinkled with garlic, oregano, and olive oil. Olives were optional on all.
I think the absence of cheese on some of them made it possible for me to devour a taste of each. Somehow I didn’t feel like I was stuffing myself so much. Maybe that was my brain trying to fake my body out, or maybe it was the absolutely delightful summer evening, complete with a robust venticello, with good friends and a great view of the stars. Whatever it was, I ate heartily, drank Prosecco, and had a marvelous time. Any frustrations I may have been feeling about the way Italians over complicate processes and systems faded away as I embraced the way Italians celebrate food and life. La dolce vita – it’s a real thing and when I allow myself to shed my Americanism I savor it. And I did savor it that Saturday night under the stars of an Umbrian sky.