Sunday, April 12, 2009

Birthday Bonus

When my sister Tami asked me what I wanted for my birthday the answer was easy...I didn't want diamonds, pearls or even a charming new boyfriend, I wanted my brother-in-law Giuseppe's homemade pizza. (In a perfect world it would be served to me by my charming new boyfriend!)

Pizza is one of my desert island foods. If I was trapped on an island for all of eternity pizza is on my list of one of the things I could eat everyday. It is one of the only foods that even when it is bad it's good.

Imagine my good fortune then to have a brother-in-law who is not only a great cook (we're talking amazing folks) but a determined one. A few years ago I asked him if he made homemade pizza and he said, "yes.: So began our annual tradition of a pizza making and eating party at my house out on the North Fork of Long Island.

Making good homemade pizza requires time. The dough, once it assembled, needs a warm dry place to rise. The anticipation of the pizza starts first thing in the morning when Giuseppe and his able assistant, my niece Sophia start the process of mixing, kneading and separating the sticky blobs into individual mounds.

This year, my sister plans on Saturday so they were coming on Sunday. "How will we get the dough done in time?" I asked, afraid we would have to scrap the plan.

"Don't worry," my sister said, "Giuseppe is on it."

Early Sunday morning in their west village apartment, Giuseppe got up (after being out to 2:00am at a party) and mixed the dough and placed each ball into a separate dish (seventeen in all) and then he put them in the back of their jeep and while they made the 100 mile trek east the little dough balls rested and rose under the warmth of his mother's hand crocheted afghan.

My friends Marc, Gina, Chris and Matt joined us for our pizza party. Giuseppe individually crafted each one as we sat at the table and waited for the next batch to come out of the oven. We stopped counting after ten.

Each time we make the pizzas, Giuseppe assesses the outcome and refines the process for the next time. He was disappointed in the dough, as it didn't make the drive as well as it had hoped.

I thought it was his best yet. How could I not? It's a blessing to have family travel for your b-day but pizza that comes with them...well if that ain't love I don't know what is.

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