When I am old and rich, I am going to buy my dad a state of the art stone pizza oven. I believe, outside of health and happiness for our family, it is what he desires most in this world.
I actually don’t know how my dad learned to make pizza. His mother, my grandmother Natalie, cooked during his childhood, but her recipes are more Italian American than Italian, with biscotti pronounced “bis-cot-ee” and celebrations on Christopher Columbus day. He could have learned it from his grandmother, Natalie’s mother, who immigrated from Italy and spoke mostly Italian. Or he could have learned it in his twenties, when he was writing the movie Big Night with his cousin Stanley, and spending all of his time eating Italian food and watching food related movies.
Regardless, I grew up eating and making homemade pizza. Me and my brother Ben would accompany each other down to the scary basement as kids to set the bowl of covered dough next to the warm furnace to let it rise. Then we would roll it out with my dad, and laugh at each other when it rolled too thin and holes poked through. Then came the sauce (homemade of course) mozzarella, parmesan, oregano, and whatever toppings we wanted.
When ate as the pizzas came out, Ben habitually leaving the table to run and peer through the oven door to declare how many more minutes were left. Everything was up for discussion: crust thickness, sauce quality and consistency, (what type of tomatoes did you use this time, Dad?), the origin of the basil. So snobbish, yet so fun.
I’ve had to let my snobbery go a bit in Ann Arbor. Inwardly I do not consider Pizza House and Pizza By The Slice to really be pizza as I understand it. (Joe’s Pizza is acceptable.) Mostly I just avoid pizza out here whenever I can, and wait for the moment when I’m back home, and collecting that bowl of dough from the warm basement.