On Saturday I made pizza for the first time in thirty years! I made the dough from scratch—it only takes four ingredients: flour, water, yeast and salt with added optional dried rosemary from last year’s garden for a savory touch. I rolled out the dough on my green linoleum farmhouse countertop and stretched the clingy mass into abstract shapes in well-worn rectangular cookie tins. Voila, about four hours and much-flour-on-the-floor later—Grandma’s pizza or as we called it back in the day—tomato pie. Grandma and mom were there with me with the same remarks from the other side (in my head) as when they were here in the flesh. “More oil, shred the mozzarella—don’t cut it, and why are you using American-made tomatoes? Use the good ones in the cans from Italy.” I finally had to ask them to butt out and leave it to me. “I can do this.” That’s what happens when you come from a long line of matriarchs who are home-grown kitchen chefs.
Why did I have to wait to be sequestered to give myself permission to make pizza, when in reality (as we knew it to be), I could easily have done it on any given Saturday (barring spring and summer—my busy gardening seasons)? There is something about having no option to go outside my house (this also happens during blizzards but not hurricanes) when I give myself permission to cook or bake something special. There is also comfort in recalling simple pleasures and tasks.
This quarantine allowed me to explore an age old tradition and reconnect with my mom and grandma kneading and stretching dough in their kitchens. They also lived through the duress of a great depression, world wars, rationing and shortages. I absolutely know what they would say to me: “Buck up—you can do this!” The pizza-making brought me back to my youth, their culinary magic, grit and fortitude. I will do this again. Time is relative. Too often though, it is lost in busyness.
kneading time into dough
the rise and stretch
hand to hand