The other night we were at a Vietnamese restaurant having dinner. A very animated group of women was seated next to us. This group of girl friends chatted about husbands, kids, and work. Occasional bursts of laughter exploded like fireworks. I wasn’t really listening to their conversation until one of them announced, “We were a pepperoni, olives, and mushrooms family.” She said this with as much conviction and finality as if she had said, “We were raised Methodists,” or “We were democrats.” The other women laughed and nodded, chiming in with, “We always had sausage and mushrooms,” or “Never, ever green peppers!”
Pizza has come a long way since the days of elementary school pizza parties with three choices and the frozen (pepperoni) Red Baron pizza my mother would pop in the oven as a special weekend treat. We are lucky to have Serious Pie in Seattle, quite possibly the best pizza place ever. And who could forget my friend Victoria’s superlative grilled pizza? Topping options are virtually endless, limited only by your imagination.
I was recently given some premade crusts to try out. They were surprisingly good—fresh, chewy, a little crispy—and since I didn’t have to deal with making a crust, which isn’t my strong point, I could concentrate on the toppings.
I made one pizza with olive oil, crushed garlic, roma tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and anchovies. Simple and salty.
The second pizza was the locavore special: an olive oil and garlic base, topped with Swiss chard picked moments before, and a thinly sliced potato that I dug out of the ground on the way in the back door. A sprinkle of parmesan finished it off.
Then finally, a slightly more traditional pizza: A thin smear of sauce made from mashed up San Marzano tomatoes, a few rounds of fresh mozzarella, a scatter of sautéed mushrooms, and hunks of sweet Italian sausage.
Thank goodness we don’t have to declare our pizza topping allegiance and stick to it as long as we both shall live…you can be in an open relationship with pizza; play the field; turn off your mind, relax and float downstream. Pepperoni will still be there waiting for you at the end of the day, like a dog resting in front of the fireplace, ears pricked for the sound of your key in the door.
What are your current favorite pizza toppings?