Thursday, February 5, 2009

No Cheese Pizza

A good relationship has countless advantages. Among them is pizza.

By now some of you know that Elise often delights me by whipping up several pizzas, of course from scratch. Last night's batch included a butternut and an anchovy-tapenade pie, both featured above. (Her halves also had cheese, a dab of which you can see on the slice above right, but more on that in a moment.)

She'll be working diligently from our home office and then suddenly peer over the screen of her laptop to declare "I'm going to make pizza tonight," as though possessed by some other power.

I'm an ardent feminist, but that doesn't stop me from observing that there's something about women and baking. Sure it might be the result of thousands of years of patriarchal oppression, with men demanding that women stick close to the oven for fear of them voting. On the other hand, maybe they just like it.

Among several modern, feminist-leaning, liberal couples that I know, the old gender divides often play out in the kitchen, if nowhere else. The men man the stove top (and of course the grill, fiery phallus that it is), the women the oven. Of course there are exceptions to the rule, but there does seem to be a trend.

Perhaps on some subconscious, symbolic level, women relate to the womb-like quality of the oven, a warm chamber from which life sustaining offspring are born. Then, like a male lion, the man eats those offspring.

Regardless, Elise likes to make pizza. And lately she's been indulging my shockingly effective sabbatical from dairy (so long, allergy induced asthma!) and making no cheese pizzas, aka tomato pies. While that might sound as unfulfilling as abstinence, I've actually come to prefer them over the standard, cow secretion covered alternative.

Sure I've had great pizza with cheese, but there's something clean and elemental in the simplicity of just crust and sauce. Without the rubbery, fatty cloak of cheese, it's just you, a little sauce, and the crust. There's nowhere to hide: the sauce has to be good, the crust has to be great.

Now if only a man could figure out how to do it.

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Michelle said...

How true! Matt does laundry and he makes the most amazing potatoes, but I am always the one doing the baking. Lately that's been a lot of bread. Have you read Artisan Bread in Five Minutes a Day by Jeff Herzberg and Zoe Francois? Even with the dough pre-mixed, Matt doesn't bake it.

Karen B said...

I've been suffering from allergies but I don't know about giving up dairy... Oh dear. I was baking bread like a fiend last week. I wonder if the gender divide in baking has something to do with how women stereotypically have a sweeter tooth than men (savoury bread aside). Most likely women are raised baking. (oops, that was a pun.)

Michelle said...

I don't know. Matt usually craves sweets before I do. My theory is that I'm a potter. We like ovens.

Joanna said...

Our Simeon fears cheese. Did you know that? Anyway, our family has been off pizza for almost a year because of the phobia. Then one day, we all smelled the delicious pizza smell on the breeze and it hit me: at this little pizza shanty I went to in college, I always had them take the cheese from my half and put it on my friend's half. It was a piece of cake to get anyone to go with me for pizza because they always got double cheese. I had an allergy thing that made most cheeses my enemy. Anyway, I'm back to no cheese pizza and Simeon thinks I'm a genius. Our pies taste so much better than those inferior cheesy ones! Last night we had garlic oil and olive pizza--cheese free!
Can't help you with the oven vs direct heat thing...

Anonymous said...

Funny, that. Most of the serious home bakers I know are men; in my extended family, the women cook more and the men do the baking, which I had always put down to their being more patient.

Maggie said...

You need to start throwing on caramelized onions in place of cheese. You won't be sorry.

wintergreens said...

I call my pizzas "flatbread" and then nobody ever misses the cheese. I'm all about carmelized onions, too, and shitakes and oyster mushrooms and fresh herbs. Sometimes I even find red sauce gets in the way of the flavor, preferring it with olive oil, garlic and herbs instead. Yum.

grasshopper said...

hah, now thanks to your article i feel like pizza somethin' fierce; thank goodness my favorite place around where I live delivers

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