Here's the thing. I love pizza. Always have, always will. I loved it since I was a kid and my Mom would make it in our little kitchen. She'd give me a little ball of dough to make a tiny one just for myself. The smell would waft out into the halls in our little apartment building, and my cousins--who lived upstairs--would know it's time to invade. I also hung out at the local pizzeria when I was a teen. I worked in the back helping to make dough and sauce, folded delivery boxes and delivered for tips... and got a lot of free slices. Dripping hot, cheesy, burn your tongue hot slices on a cold winter's Friday night--that's the best.
But it wasn't until about 8 years ago that I became determined to make my own pizza at home. A baking stone, a good cutter, bread flour and a professional oven peel and almost a year of practice and lots of so-so pizzas. I even remember one time when I forgot to put the stone in the oven and shoved the pizza off my wooden peel right onto the oven rack. What a mess! Somehow, I managed to get most of it off the rack and folded it over and made my first ever Stromboli.
I now consider myself somewhat of a pizza expert. I can manipulate the dough recipe to make it more crisp, more fluffy, more thick like a focaccia, super thin and more. I can make a Sicilian style, an upside down Chicago deep dish, rustic shaped, pan pizza, heart shaped and dog bone shaped. I've even made double crust stuffed pizzas and my own version of the edge-stuffed crust. Dessert pizzas are killer when we have friends over. And at Thanksgiving time there's my Thanksgiving Pizza made with turkey, stuffing, cranberries and gravy. You can't believe how good that one is. I'm so into the nuances of pizza-making that I even noticed how a rainy day has a great effect on my pizzas... rainy day pizzas are better.
Now I'm going to where pizza was invented. I'm going to sample pizza all around Italy. But not the tourist pizzas you get across the street from the tourist hot-spots, but the real pizzas from the little mom & pop pizzerias and bakeries. I'm going to take notes with my mouth, my tongue and my belly. I'll see if there are differences between pizzas in Tuscany, Rome, Puglia, Amalfi or the mountain villages of Basilicata. I'll take pictures when the pizza is blog-worthy. I'll come back with new recipes and perhaps a few new techniques. Maybe I'll get a brick pizza oven someday so I can make those smoky, semi-charred pizzas.
Stay tuned... and have a slice on me.