Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Pizza Revisited

Introducing my favorite Maxie's Pizza: Idiot's Delight, regular crust. This is not the pizza I ate last night; it has gluten; it would make my tummy hurt very badly.

Next slide: This is the salad I built for myself at the salad bar. Salad bars are always a risky proposition for the gluten endangered; someone might have dropped crouton crumbs in the gluten-free ranch dressing you drizzle over your garbanzo beans. I usually try to stay away from the crouton area of the bar, but this is a small one. The world doesn't worry about cross contamination, because food is not, by nature, poison to them. But I wasn't always gluten endangered and I can't possibly count the times I had a crouton roll off of my plate while I was making my salad (I have been a salad bar frequenter since they first came on the scene back when I was in high school...we are talking a looooonnnnnggggggg time. My favorite salad bar was at a now long-gone pizza place called Grizzly Bear Pizza. I was in high school and I would use cucumber slices to build up the sides of the little wooden bowl so I could get more stuff in there. It was a once through bar and I wanted my money's worth. I dropped a lot of croutons in the Grizzly Bear Pizza salad bar. Their croutons were aweso...sorry, I digress).

My buddy, Betty, got the veggie pizza. Doesn't it look wonderful? I think that Betty had the advantage, because she had never eaten a Maxie's Pizza Idiot's Delight with glutenized crust; she seemed to enjoy it. Perhaps she would have more if it weren't for my initial lament that what I was eating was not even close to what I had eaten the last time I was there. Sigh...

The next picture is of my Hawaiian pizza. The price of admission allowed for three toppings, but I haven't found another ingredient on the planet that enhances the flavors Canadian bacon and pineapple afford the palate. Allow me tell try to convey to you (who don't writhe in pain over wheat, rye, oats or barley) what it is like to bite into gluten-free, pizza dough for the first time. It turns out that gluten is an important part of your favorite pizza dough. It doesn't just hold it together and give it that wonderful texture you have grown up knowing and loving, it also adds amazing flavor (or maybe that is just the nature of the grain). The gluten-free crust beneath my Canadian bacon and my pineapple and my tomato sauce and my cheese was crumbly and cake-ish and somewhat sweet. It literally shocked my mouth. Silly me.

I was well into my second piece when I finally had to reconcile with the reality that I couldn't expect this pizza to taste like it was supposed to taste. (Like poor Pip in Great Expectations, my own expectations went unrealized. The Maxie's Idiot's Delight Pizza I remember will just have to sit in my mind's dining hall, gathering dust and cobwebs, molding and turning gray like poor, altar-abandoned Miss Havisham's wedding cake.) I had to come to terms with the fact that this mound of calories was what it was, a gluten free pizza. After reaching this philosophical point in the meal, I actually enjoyed it; I embraced the dough; I looked at it in that new light and accepted it on its own terms; I ate a third piece and I may not eat again until lunch time today.

My pizza box (no toxic Styrofoam for me!) Notice the territorial signs.

And speaking of Italian food: Earlier in the week, I made some homemade Ratatouille. It isn't quite as exciting as making it with eggplant, green peppers, tomatoes and onions freshly nabbed from the back yard, but it was still delicious. Eggplant Ratatouille Pie is a friend to the gluten intolerant; it is naturally gluten free, so there is no need for tastebudinal adjustments.
Tweaked Ratatouille Pie
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F

a couple of eggplants, sliced paper thin (maybe cardboard thin)
some onions, chopped till you weep
a green pepper or so, cut up however you want
3 or 4 tomatoes, slice, dice, whatever
a couple of cloves of garlic, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried basil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
salt, to taste
1/3 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons wine vinegar
shredded Italian blend cheese (as much as you like)

Drizzle part of the oil over the bottom of a 9x13 glass casserole dish. Layer 1/2 of the veggies. Sprinkle with half of the oregano and basil and a little salt. Spread 1/2 of the cheese over that layer. Make a second layer with the rest of the vegetables. Sprinkle with remaining oregano, basil, salt and this time, the garlic. Drizzle with remaining olive oil and the wine vinegar. Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, spread remaining cheese over the top, put back in oven for another 10, or until the cheese is nicely browned.

Winterized: I used S&W diced, canned tomatoes instead of fresh. They worked out pretty well.

No comments: