By Mary Anna Violi | @Mary Anna Violi
I am here today to extol the virtues of that delicious dish that pairs so well with Friday Night Lights: Pizza! While ravenous high school football fans eat pizza on Friday nights, college football spectators relish it on Saturdays, and on Monday nights pro-football viewers eat it up. Yet I am neither a football fan, nor a sports fan in general, but I am an Italian who has feasted on pizza since childhood.
There are those pizza purists who claim a brick oven is necessary for a superb pizza. It is true that the wood-burning brick oven gives the pizza a particular smoky flavor, but I have dined on flavorful pizzas cooked on a grill, my brother is a master of this manner of pizza making, and on pizzas baked in a standard oven, which is my pizza domain. I readily admit I got a kick out of sitting in pizzerias in Florence, Italy at a pizza bar where I could actually see the pizza makers thrusting the pie into the brick oven on long pizza paddles. As thrilling as I found this every time, the heat emanating from the oven caused beads of perspiration to roll down my face. The pizza was mighty fine every time, washed down with local wine, and with lively conversation.
I used to make my own pizza crust, and infrequently I still do. The fact is that it is time saving to purchase Whole Foods own pizza crust, white or whole wheat, or Trader Joe’s, or, even in a pinch, the humble Pillsbury’s Classic. What I like on my pizza is a fire-roasted tomato sauce, fresh Mozzarella cheese, a bit of red pepper, drizzled with a good quality olive oil, and topped off with fresh basil leaves for a traditional Neapolitan Pizza Margherita. Underneath the dough, I have spread around olive oil. However, I also devour pizza with the aforementioned sauce, shredded Mozzarella or rounds of Provolone cheese, sausage, green peppers, mushrooms, and olives. I also sprinkle a generous amount of oregano on pizza, just because. As always, I have olive oil under the pizza dough for added flavor. After all, I make pizza to suit my own palate, which explains the anchovies and artichokes that often find their way on top of my pizza. If I have guests, then I customize the pizza to satisfy their pizza preferences. Like pasta, pizza lends itself to invention; it is a creative force of food nature!
Ciao for now.