Monday, January 9, 2012


Pizza! The entire second week of January is National Pizza Week! I love it!

What did you say? You can’t eat pizza every day, day after day, for an entire week? I can. Bet you can too! You’re thinking of pizza with some sort of red sauce, maybe with some kind of meat, and some melted cheese on top. We could go into the reasons why that combination tends to burn the roof of your mouth but I don’t claim to be a physicist or mathematician. I have been known to make some pizzas like the one you’re thinking about and a few that are quite different.

There’s the history of pizza. I’m not really a historian either. I think pizza shows up on the food calendar often enough to cover pizza history another time.

It may be a good idea to cover some not-so-standard pizzas I have made during my adventures in pizza making. If I wait too long, I may not remember even the highlights.

When I worked in a government office in 1990, we ate a lot at work. People from all around the country worked there. At least once a month someone would bring in food for a friend (or friends) to share. Before large layoffs started, someone had the wise idea of a shared lunch. Everyone would bring a favorite food, local from their home state most appreciated. I was lucky. I was from Chicago. I decided to bring pizza, one of my favorite foods.

The year was 1990. I made my first pizza in 1960. I would make three different pizzas. One would be as close as I could come to the first one without Chicago water. That would be a simple cheese and sausage with a few vegetables on half. Another would be plain cheese with a side of cooked veggies for those who thought plain cheese boring. My two pizza pans filled and one recipe of base dough used up, gave me a chance to experiment. I would make a ham and cheese on rye pizza. I made them almost deep-dish in round cake pans. I baked the foundations until non quite done, docking the dough and even putting another cake pan on top to keep them from rising too tall and leaving room for the filling.

I made a béchamel sauce and sweated some sliced onions in a frying pan. Then I started building the pizzas. It started with the béchamel spooned on, not too thick, followed by the onion, just thick enough. Then came the stars of the show: the ham and cheese. I used thin-sliced deli ham and cut it into bite-sized pieces. Those went on the pizza and were covered with sliced Swiss cheese. The pizzas went back into the oven until the cheese on top melted.

All the pizzas were a hit. I thank the Department of Commerce for providing enough microwave ovens to warm all of our food. The ham and cheese on rye was the last one to go. Was it that scary? One of my friends (who later became the Mayor of Sarasota) decided to try a thin slice. He then staked claim on the rest of it.

If I can make a ham and cheese sandwich into a pizza, how about a cherry pie? I’ve done that!


  1. Love it, but now I'm hungry! You should make a chocolate pizza next time. :)

  2. I think I need to go make some pizza now. Yum!

  3. Chocolate pizza for the next pizza day, week, or month, anonymous.