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Pizza Splashdown

November 3, 2008

In June, I joined a group called the Daring Bakers. Since June, chaos and failure have intruded upon my baking like never before. I have begun suspecting the group comes with a culinary curse. Behold:

1. June: my apartment is over-run by contractors who tear out my ceiling, pee with poor aim and my bathroom door ajar, shovel plaster into my kitchen sink, use a contraption called the Dirt Hawg to suck up the debris. As a result I am unable to participate in the monthly baking challenge, lest the nails, drywall and dust choke anyone who eats something prepared in my kitchen.

2. July: still not finished the renovations, the painters arrive seven weeks late, slather the place in primer and disappear for another two weeks. Once again, due to drop cloths and paint fumes, there will be no baking.

3. August: squirrels break in through the bathroom window and devour the baking supplies I had carefully lined up on the kitchen counter in preparation for the monthly challenge. On their way out, they notice the stash of candied violets and rose petals in plastic pouches on the shelf and spread them from one end of my teacup-sized apartment to the other. In the morning, I find shards beneath my pillow…but not before sleeping soundly all night on a pillow that a squirrel had touched with candy-coated paws.

4. September: no disaster this time, but documenting my baking takes second place to gushing about babies. Instead of posting cute pictures of crackers with international oils and spices, I wait for the arrival of my nephew, whose first few hours are well documented on this page.

5. October: this is it. I am so baking this month. I read the recipe, procure the necessary supplies, visit the market on the scheduled day, and stock up on delicious toppings. The challenge? To create a pizza from scratch, including the bit where you toss the dough into the air while it spins like a floppy disk then lands, perfectly, atop your raised fists. Exciting!

Instead, arriving at my partner’s home last night, I discover some, ahem, vermin have infiltrated his flour bag. After an emergency run to the corner shop, we are set to go. Not so fast. It seems vermin have also infiltrated the fresh new bag of flour. The crawly kind. The kind that gets into everything and lays eggs and then these hatch and they, too, get into everything, and so on, for thousands of generations.

The catch?

We don’t notice this until we’ve liberally shaken flour across all six tiny, perfect, ready-to-toss wheels of dough. The beautiful dough I spent two days preparing, following all the steps in the recipe. An hour before this moment, I was jumping up and down in the kitchen, clapping my hands and shouting, “pizza! pizza! pizza!” That’s how excited I was about the whole thing.

My pizza dreams crash from the sky, plunging into a cold sea of ickiness like a space shuttle burning its way to earth. The very idea of dinner makes me feel gaggy, and after hustling the dough into the trash and out the door along with anything else food-like that might have come close enough for touching, we settle down to a bottle of chianti, kick up our feet, wait for the revulsion to pass, then start dinner from scratch.

Dinner was definitely not pizza.

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Shivs permalink
    November 3, 2008 7:41 pm

    In some places the vermin might have been considered:
    a – a delicacy
    b – extra protein
    c – par for the course.

    Remember, my “other” house has resident frogs in the kitchen. Not to mention scorpions, chinese geckos (the cutest!!), tarantulas and fist-sized cockroaches.

  2. Amanda permalink
    November 3, 2008 7:43 pm

    Oh, I tried, I really did try not to lose my shit over a few maggots…and then a few roaches…but…well…frankly, together that was too stiff a bug cocktail for me to stomach.

  3. Carrie permalink
    November 4, 2008 1:07 am

    no fun!

    I am so sorry to hear about your pizza disaster.

    I have so many apples right now that I have to learn how to make pie crust. Any moral support will be appreciated.

  4. Amanda permalink
    November 4, 2008 9:54 am

    Indeed, the pizza was a tragedy, and ordinarily I pride myself on not being squeamy…I mean, I’ve stepped on two-inch cockroaches and merely scraped them from between my toes…but…after needing weevils into the pizza dough, there really was no resurrecting the dream of melted cheese and crispy crust.

  5. looka permalink
    November 4, 2008 12:00 pm

    IT WAS THE SQUIRRELs! They brought all the mayhem, even the no-manners work dudes. All plotted by them. Look cute – be a bastard. On their secret meetings they yell:

    “Revenge comes like bitters, from these critters.”

    We used to have moth maggots in our flour and pasta. And cereal. And Oregano. And baking powder. And…

  6. Amanda permalink
    November 4, 2008 12:15 pm

    So true, I have heard those damn squirrels chanting their rhymes!

    The secret is: never turn your back on squirrels. Also, never turn your back on maggots.

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