Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Adventures in Pizza-Making

The afternoon sun shone bright on 5 June, and our Survival Italian instructor, Rossella, beckoned us down a long winding road toward the semi-unknown. An afternoon of pizza-making at a local agriturismo awaited us hungry collegiates. Following Rossella, we traipsed down long paved roads and long dusty roads, dodging tractors and runners and dogs. After an hour of walking and accumulating much dust, we arrived at a large house and were welcomed by a nice Italian couple.

Crackers and chips sated our hunger while we followed Rossella’s Italian language lesson on pizza ingredients, and she warned that the couple from whom we would be learning spoke almost no English (so it was either pay attention or make bad pizza – we paid attention).

Our hosts then took us to their back porch where we found a long table. At each spot at the table was a bowl that held a flour mixture, and beside the bowl was a small cube of yeast and a small cup of water. We made our dough from those ingredients, hanging on Rossella and Dr. Lombardini’s translations and adding much more salt than was instructed. We added olive oil to our dough and then began the seemingly-endless kneading. This process was met with various degrees of success, some efforts helped by the magical hands of our hosts which produced sensationally smooth mounds of dough. Some dreams of self-made pizza were crushed (others relieved) when our host informed us that because our dough wouldn’t have time to rise, we would be using pre-made dough and using the dough we made to make bread. He showed us different ways to cut and roll the bread. I chose a flower formation, and others chose other flowers, snails, and other strange objects. We left our dough creations to rise while they brought out the pre-made dough which we covered with tomato sauce, cheese, and toppings. Those pizzas went to the wood oven while we played outside and took pictures. While we waited, our host showed us a scrapbook detailing the purchase of his house, the family’s move there, and the house’s renovation. I greatly enjoyed getting to see pictures of the house as it was before (completely dilapidated), its destruction, and then the building of the new house.

Our pizzas were soon ready. We moved to the beautiful dining room with large windows depicting a wonderfully-real Tuscan landscape to eat our creations. I found the pizza to be different in a good way. It had a simpler taste than the pizza I’m used to at home, and it was wonderfully coupled with red wine and followed by chocolate cake.

The pizza-making experience was unforgettable. Making pizza from scratch gave me a greater appreciation for my good friends at Pizza Hut back home, and hearing the story of the home added a feeling of authenticity to the whole evening.

-Macy Hicks

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