The art of pizza-making

April 22, 2021   ·   0 Comments

By Anthony Carnovale

There’s an art to making a good pizza. And I think it’s safe to say, that you won’t see it at any of the popular pizza places that are currently shucking pies in Orangeville. In North America, like Orangeville, most pizzas are sold like fast-food items- something that is cheap, quick, and convenient.

Growing up, my mother made English muffin pizzas; my grandmother made half-sheet pizzas with hot dogs (because hots dogs were cheaper than pepperoni). In elementary school, my friends and I would venture over to Pizza Pizza, where for two bucks, we smashed a pepperoni slice and chased it with a can of pop. Like most immature palates, we didn’t know what was good for us. If it was covered in cheese and meat, we stuffed ourselves like a panzerotti. I’ve learned a lot about pizza since those days.

I’ve been making my own pizza for over ten years, now. I don’t know how, or why I started, but once I did, I couldn’t stop. I don’t mess around when it comes to pizza. I’m not a pizzaiolo (professional pizza maker), but I’m starting to wish I was. The ingredients for a good pizza are flour, water, yeast, salt, tomatoes and cheese. Simple enough. It’s what you do with, and where you source, these ingredients that makes all the difference (my dough sits in the fridge for three days). I read books and watch pizza documentaries. Pizza has become a thing. I walk around the house with a pizza cookbook and read it whenever I can find the time.

One day, my son asked me: ‘Daddy, if you’ve been making pizzas for so long now, how come you still need to follow a recipe?’ The truth is: I was afraid to make a mistake. You see, I’ve got some serious food critics around the table each night (my son and daughter think their Bobby Flay and Giada de Laurentis). To keep the family happy, I’m going to follow the advice of industry experts, people like: Ken Forkish, Marc Vetri, Franco Pepe, Stefano Callegari.

Listening to the experts is something I wish the Ontario government would have done throughout this pandemic. Doug Ford’s response to the COVID crisis, in particular, to the third wave, has been anemic at best; it reminds me of a Dr. Oetker’s frozen pizza. I recently drove through downtown Orangeville; it didn’t look like a stay-at-home order had been issued. People were lining up at cannabis outlets, coffee shops, retail stores, and the library. I’m concerned; I’m worried; I’m confused. And by all accounts, I’m not the only one. Ford’s prescription to get us out this looks like an old recipe card with illegible writing.

The restrictions he imposed throughout each wave defy logic (golf courses open, patios closed). One day, the government announces that restaurants could soon open; a couple of weeks later, they instigate a stay-at-home order (after restaurants had already spent thousands of dollars preparing to reopen). We were told to stay within our own households over the Thanksgiving weekend; and, then we were told to keep gatherings to a minimum and to exercise our due diligence.

An editorial in last Saturday’s Globe and Mail quoted Sylvia Jones, after she was asked why the province waited so long to introduce more stringent public health measures, after being warned, by their own experts, that a third wave was upon us: “We wanted to make sure that the modelling was actually showing up in our hospitals.” Uhm, what? This isn’t experimenting with different types of yeasts and cheeses. We’re not talking pizza; we’re talking lives here. Please, go back and read her statement again.

This week, Education Minister Stephen Lecce announced schools would be opening after the spring break; only to have Ford announce, a day later, that schools would remain closed until the stay-at-home order is lifted. When asked why the message had changed, Ford admitted to not knowing that things were going to get this bad. Huh? I mean, I knew schools weren’t going to reopen based on what I was reading, and hearing, from the medical experts —why didn’t he?

I get these are challenging times, but it’s clear that the Ford government has been making things up throughout this entire pandemic. Doug Ford, like an all-you-can-eat pizzeria, is trying to be all things to all people. People are confused, and his mixed-messages, and colour codes, have only exacerbated our pandemic fatigue. If he had a clue, perhaps Ontario would be further ahead, closer to returning to normal —like some provinces, like Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, England, for example.

I get it: we can all learn from failure. I recently sourced some flour from a mill out in Beeton. I was so excited to try it out; I was so disappointed with the results. The dough came out brown, chewy and didn’t cook the way that I had hoped. For the first time since I started making pizzas I messed with a recipe — and lost. It was just a pizza. When lives are on the line, I’d rather stick to a recipe that is guaranteed to work, a recipe that is going to save lives, and get us out of this mess once and for all.

Hopefully, in the not-to-distant-future, I’d like for all of you to try a slice of my homemade pizza. Its handmade, hand rolled and won’t have any pineapple on it —the recipe doesn’t call for it.

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