Saturday, April 12, 2008

i'll probably be the next fleming or something

blargh. i am sick of bad cheese. I swear that mozzarella wasn't that old. and yet there it sat, super duper mcmoldy. And not 'cut off the moldy bits and use the rest' moldy -- and besides, the internet tells me that it's only okay to do that on harder cheeses, like cheddar. apparently poor mozzarella is too squishy.

super. duper. mcmoldy. And my pizza dough was all ready! I could have cried. That's what I get for knowing what I have in my kitchen and not bothering to check.

So I sent William out to fetch me some. Every time I look despairingly out of the kitchen and say, "dear, would you mind..." a little piece of me DIES.

I am a little more dead today.

But yes. Yesterday for dinner we had pizza. Pizza and soda. and it was deeeelicious.

I feel like some folks have wound up with the impression that I am all health-nutty. I was talking about chocolate with one of my coworkers and she said, "wait -- as healthy as you eat, you still like chocolate?" I almost choked. What is this nonsense about me eating "healthy?" I bake cookies and pies on a regular basis, I love chocolate and ice cream and cake -- I like things that taste good. Who doesn't?

And how on earth did she get the idea that I could live without chocolate?

The thing is, I don't like eating gross food. Pizza in a box? Usually gross, although there are some exceptions. Those soft, strangely-colored "cookies" sold at supermarkets? Gross. Shrink-wrapped little debbie cakes? Disgusting. Anything with aspartame? I can freaking taste it -- like somebody sprinkled sour metal shavings into my no-fat yogurt. I don't care how "healthy" they say that is, it is gross. Limp sandwiches that are 90% sprouts? Gross.

Most sodas? Gross, gross, gross. I don't know. I have somehow moved away from liking anything that comes out of a soda fountain. Right now the root beer is about all I can handle, and even that isn't too enjoyable. I don't know what about it tastes so bad -- it's too sweet, too syrupy, or something.

We had Fufuberry instead, and that is some delicious stuff, yo. Props to Jones Soda for the only soda of theirs I really love. Props also to them for all their other, very creative sodas that I don't love at all.

I suppose my food philosophy, if it could be summed up, would center on the fact that I like eating delicious food that doesn't make me feel bad. Food that doesn't make me feel physically bad, like fat-filled meals make me feel heavy and nauseous, and like sugary candies make me feel ill fifteen minutes after I eat them. Food that doesn't gross me out, like anything with lard in it does. Food that doesn't make me feel guilty, like factory-farmed meat or -- well, the category of 'food that makes me feel guilty' seems to be expanding, thanks to my reading choices. Drat.

Things that taste good but feel bad seem like they should be easy to avoid, especially when there are all kinds of yummy foods that make a body feel good. In fact, these days, the only place I have problems is with candy. There are always jars around in the office, and even though I know I'll regret it, I frequently grab a few and gulp them down. And then I regret it.

My own desserts rarely make me feel regretful. It turns out I can eat a fair amount of pie without feeling icky afterwards. Cookies are easy to have in moderation -- they're the right size and everything. And a lot of what I make for dessert starts life as non-threatening fruit, and doesn't get much transformed along the way. Have you ever had broiled grapefruit? (Recipe: Turn on the broiler. Sprinkle as much brown sugar as your sweet tooth desires on top of your grapefruit halves. Pop them under the broiler til they smell delicious and you can't wait any longer. Enjoy.)

Most of the time, I eat food that actually makes me feel good. I'm usually proud of myself for having made it, and I am continuing to discover what sorts of dishes leave me feeling energized and refreshed, and what sorts of things leave me a little bloated or queasy or sleepy or just feeling off. My body certainly doesn't have ascetic tastes -- it's anti-grease and salt, but loves spicy foods, roasted vegetables, dark chocolate after dinner, fruit smoothies, coconut milk, lots of fruit, honey -- even deep-fried things, in moderation. Did you know that if you deep-fry things right, they shouldn't be greasy?

And just like soda doesn't have to be sickly-sweet and cloying, pizza doesn't have to be a greasy, limp mess. Mine was tomato sauce, mozzarella, sauteed onions and red bell pepper, broiled eggplant, and spinach. A bit of canola oil, a bit more olive oil -- no grossness required. I did learn a few things -- I didn't saute the spinach, and I think that if I try that again, I will put the spinach under the cheese. It seems obvious in retrospect, but there was some pretty crunchy spinach involved. But overall, it was good.

The last couple pizzas I had made were thin-crust; good, but not the same as the thick, crisp, chewy crust that my dad makes. I was really craving pizza like I grew up on (I miss all kinds of things!) and I called him to find his recipe, but I couldn't reach him. What to do? I decided to go with the Joy of Cooking recipe, figuring that odds were pretty good he had started from there. If not, hey, it'd still be pizza. And it turned out pretty darn close!

I totally understand that people are reluctant to eliminate tasty things from their diet in favor of low-fat, low-calorie, low-carb, low-pleasure diets that leave them hungry and cranky. Pretty much everybody agrees that those diets aren't good for you, anyway. But why would we seek out foods that make us feel ill, and avoid good, wholesome foods: whole-fat, whole-calorie, whole-carb, whole-pleasure diets that actually nourish?

A live without pizza would be a sad one indeed -- but trading greasy deliveries for fresh ingredients, a crust just how you want it, and a far more flavorful experience... how is that hard? Why is that unusual?


Steve said...

Hi Camilla,

I know you are more of a thick crust kinda gal, but still, being the adventurous type you might be willing to try my newly discovered new favorite pizza dough recipe, Peter Reinhart's Napoletana Pizza Dough:

By the way, if you want a frugal pizza/bread stone you can go to Lowes and buy 4 - six inch square unglazed floor tiles (for about a dollar each) to bake on. Make sure they are unglazed.

- Steve

P.S. You should try making your own mozarella cheese. I did it once and it wasn't too difficult really. You can use milk from the store. You also need rennet, citric acid and a fairly precise cooking thermometer.

Camila said...

floor tiles? Sah-WEET! That sounds like it will just about fit in my budget!

i am indeed sorely tempted to make my own cheese, ever since reading about it in Animal, Vegetable, Mineral. I'm definitely gonna try it out one of these days.

You have awesome tips, Steve. Thanks!!