Matthew loves pizza. It is his favourite, favourite meal. It ticks all the boxes for comfort food: carbs, cheese, tomato. He loves it to the point that he could eat pizza several times a week. Imagine his sacrifice at our decision to be more careful with our limited funds, and not go out for our weekly pizza.
Matthew accepted it stoically, not a complaint passed his lips, and then, for his holiday reading he came across this book: The Elements of Pizza by Ken Forkish.
“We’re going to try making our own pizza,” he announced one slow day. “The author says here: ‘Even if you have no pizza making experience, I can give you a start-to-finish method that is easy to learn and simple to execute, and it will last you a lifetime.’”
Happy to play along and eager at last to use our Weber that we have had for two years but never used, Chantal bought a wonderful extension that turns it into a mini pizza oven. It didn't arrive in time for the first trial and as trials go it was testing.
Master pizza makers in the making
A pizza test
The five minutes here and five minutes there didn’t quite work out as described in the book. Stretching the dough looks far easier on all those YouTube clips than in reality. Getting it into the oven in its round tomato and cheese glory is another skill that defies logic and having an oven that can bear the heat is a singular necessity.
Our under used giant cooker whirred and shuddered alarmingly. We tried to ignore its cries which only resulted in it whirring some more before it gave up with a sinister “pop”. This left us scrambling to use what heat had already been generated and then substitute it with a standalone grill from the dark ages. The pizza looked a tad deformed, and was vaguely underdone but not inedible.
Our first attempt. A bit deformed but mostly tasted like a pizza.
Our enthusiasm undamped and our confidence boosted by the timely arrival of the Weber pizza oven extension, we tried again. More accurately, Matthew and Tristan tried again. More trails awaited. The fire was set and left to heat up, only to be blown out by a mischievous gust of wind. Start again.
The beautifully stretched and filled dough was left waiting on the peel, that thing that is supposed to deliver the pizza effortlessly into the fire so you do not burn your arms. In the time it took for the fire to get ready, the dough had sucked up all the flour and stuck so firmly and unrelentingly to the steel disk that it had to be sliced off with a knife.
But in the end, two slightly more pizza looking and tasting pizzas were delivered with unconcealed triumph to the table. And they were a triumph. Delicious with salad, if a little doughy, it was decreed that having made them ourselves was the best part.
In the past we have tended to take pizza for granted. With a pizza place on virtually every corner, we have blithely rated the good and not so good of those we have taste tested. Having made our own from scratch we have a much deeper appreciation for the art of making a simple pizza. For real inspiration we recommend watching the Netflix documentary series: Chef’s Table: Pizza.
The first pizza from our wood-fired Weber
Fast, tasty & cheap vs real
As a society we behave quite unconsciously when it comes to what we put in our mouths. Food must be fast, tasty and cheap. We moan at the price of good wholesome food but forget what it took to get to our tables. We decry the price of organic anything.
Granted it is more expensive than the irradiated, pesticide covered, hormone injected mass produced stuff passed off as fresh and not, food. But it is real food. And when we eat real food we don’t need to eat as much. Our brains are not tricked into eating more than we need.
Sometimes we just do not know the difference because the marketing machines have been so effective. So we grab the honey off the supermarket shelf thinking we are doing good, not realising that it is irradiated, or radurised, as they now like to call it. It’s no longer honey, it’s a thick sweet spread with no goodness left at all.
Real raw honey from real bees. Pure, strained and delicious
Lost the patience to honour
Industrialised agriculture, the drive for excessive profits and a hyped up consumer culture has resulted in a society that no longer honours what it takes in time, effort and conscious energy to produce honest food.
For that matter, we seem to have lost the patience to honour anything that takes time to make. Whether it’s a theatre production, items lovingly handcrafted and imperfect, or meals filled with vegetables that are not flawless, perfectly round and plump but rather dimpled and possibly nibbled by some creepy crawly sharing the spoils.
On our property, we have established a vegetable garden, have two beehives and Matthew is trying, to date, unsuccessfully, to lobby for free-range eggs produced by a gaggle of free-range hens in our free range garden. We know what it takes to grow, cultivate, harvest and produce. It’s hard work.
May your blessings be bountiful and your gratitude glorious
Blessings and thanks
Each time we sit down to eat, we say grace. We are not religious but do it as a reminder to acknowledge and honour the food and those that got it to our table. Let’s not deny that it is easy to rush through those off-by-heart words too, but lately we have been more conscious and careful with what we are saying.
Life is so unbelievably challenging at the moment, we wonder if you could take a small breath before you buy, purchase, or consume. Just to check in with yourself and notice something small to venerate in the moment. To honour and appreciate. To be grateful for. Just for a moment pause, as we close out as our little prayer does: Blessings and thanks for our meal [or this purchase, this gift, our lives, our loves] and all who made it possible.
So be it.
Until next time.
Yours in feeling,
Chantal & Matthew
About the author
5th Place offers specialised psychological services in the form of coaching and therapy for immediate relief from stress, anxiety, & other mental health challenges. It works fast, deep and quick. For individuals and groups, children, teens and adults.