Lost in Translation

Before I regale you with a samurai’s tale of Sushi Pizza, allow me to make a special announcement. The Pizza What chefs are pleased as pie to recognize that there are now seven symphonies in their pizza opus. We’d like to take this moment to thank you for joining us on our pizza quest. This isn’t just about filling our tummies with unorthodox, incomparable pizzas… it’s about the culinary revolution we’re crafting together. So, as they say in Japan, “Happy 7nd” Pizzaversary to you, Reader-San! 

Domo arigato, Mr. English Teacher.

 

 And so, in light of such a celebratory introduction, it is with heavy heart that I must write you tonight bearing bad news. Pizza #7, Sushi Pizza, was not quite a success. I would not go quite so far as to say “Pizza Fail”, but under pressure I might allow “Pizza Flunk.” Our culinary catastrophe was not for lack of forethought: A veggie voyage to Japan had been on our To Bake list since Pizza What’s conception. Nor was it for lack of inspiration. Quite the contrary, sushi begs to be shaped into whimsical, edible tableaux. WHAT’S THAT, YOU WANT PROOF:   

Pointilism at its tastiest.

 

  And yet. The best laid plans of rice and men… Perhaps in retracing our steps through this senseless food-foible, we may find some semblance of comfort and hope for the future. Hold my hand?  (Tighter?)  

  Our vision was to unfurl a giant makisushi and cut it into triangular slices. Seems easy enough, amirite? And in many ways it should have been. Yet there were early signs of the impending doom. Ex. 1: when Cheese when to make the sushi rice in the rice cooker, we found that lo! the lid had been pilfered! Potentially by ex-roommates, potentially by the ghosts of samurai who would rather commit seppuku than see their beloved national dish profaned in such a way. Either way, we’d need Patricia Arquette to find out where it was, so with heavy hearts, we moved the rice into a regular pot.   

Don't tase me, kemosabe.

 

 Happily, things started looking up when we opened the package of tempeh, sliced n’ diced:    

   

 Then stuck em in the toaster oven for that nice warm golden brown:   

    

Mmmm, now that looks totemo sexy, hai? And because we’re all about the alternative protein sources of the east (beloved by the wicked witch of the west) we also threw in a container of firm tofu. The tofu was more milky than normal, however, which threw up some red flags… and with all this throwing, somebody was bound to get egg roll on their face.
 
 
While Cheese was doing all the heavy lifting, Pep took over the chopstick-weight chore of putting the nori down in some sort of pizza-like shape. The rice was then applied evenly on top as the ‘sauce’ layer. Problem was, we totally forgot about the sushi rice vinegar until AFTER we had already layered it… so I sort of just sprinkled it on top…  And yeah, it worked about as well as Vinegar Sprinkles would probably taste. 
 

    

A second layer of nori was put on top of the rice, forming what we thought we be kinda like the Japanese equivalent of stuffed crust pizza and would also make the ‘crust’ slightly more stable than the single-layer nori would have been. HA. Instead of cleverly foreshadowing, let me just come out and say we would later come to realize that this particularly decision is where the sake hit the fan.  This was a full-on sushi pwn.   O.o
 
 
Blind to the error of our ways, we carried on with the toppings layer: the rest of the rice, the tofu, a mushroom, and chopped cashews.
 
 

 Followed by our freshy-fresh ingredients of cucumbers, an avocado (still not ripe enough), and the tempeh strips. Sushi pizza was complete!   

  
 
Now that is a geisha of a pizza. And we even had the good sense to keep our beverages in theme and pick up two bottles of sake to drink with dinner.  We chose the two you see below based on, of course, the prettiness-quotient of the bottle. Prettiness quotient is how the Pizza What chefs have made most of their momentous life decisions with little to no negative consequences, so it seemed a folly not to continue on the current path. With the pizza assembled and our sake poured, it was time to dig in! Sadly, drinking both bottles wouldn’t have been enough to make sushi pizza edible.

     

     

 Trying…   

 
 
Tryyyyying…

    

 
Not gonna happen.

    

Bite. Pull. Try to chew. Repeat. Watch as most of the pizza toppings fall off. STILL Cheese’s canines could not manage to get through the nori layer.  I remember there was a day in third grade where we were being taught about maps: how to read a legend, cardinal directions, Never Eat Soggy Waffles, that sort of thing. As a special show and tell, we were given a map used in military expeditions and wilderness survival trips, so durable it could not be ripped. Well if there’s one thing 3rd graders don’t like to be told it’s what they can and can’t break, thankyouverymuch. Cue twenty 8 year-olds all viciously trying to shred this map until they’re red in the face with exertion and the sense of futility. This nori would have made those maps look like tissue paper.
 
It ain’t pretty, but let’s just say the heat in the kitchen after this fiasco was almost, almost, too much to stand. Where had we gone wrong? Who could we blame?!  

Things get tense around the Pizza What table.

 

 But after a few minutes and a few more sips of sake, our shock and horror began to subside. Accusing one another of ruining sushi pizza was as impossible as eating it. It would simply have to stand as testament that even Pep and Cheese aren’t perfect. Hopeful once again, we picked ourselves up by the rickshaw handles and got down to business: scraping the delish toppings off the inedible nori crust,  and packaging it away in tupperware tombs. The nori, however, we were careful to save. It was the silver lining! Our golden ticket! You see, we’re selling it to PETA as a vegan-friendly leather alternative. Crotch rocket riders, rejoice! You can pop all the wheelies you want going 100mph on I-95… road rash is a thing of the past: 

    

 Well dear readers, now you know the tale of sushi pizza. Stick a fork in us, we’re done.
 

 Until tomorrow, of course.    

Pizza #7 recap: nori, sushi rice, cashews, tempeh, tofu, mushroom, cucumber, avocado.
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Published in: on February 9, 2010 at 11:15 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Veni, vedi, ate.

Ah, the meat tornado:  

Auntie Em, Auntie Em!

For those of you who didn’t spend a year living in a city with more kebaberies per block than New York City has Starbucks, a vertically mounted rotisserie of lamb may at first intrigue– even intimidate. But fear not, gentle readers, your herbivorous hosts will hold your hand every step of the way. But be prepared… because     

... and I'm eating off those abdominals.

  Allow me to explain, by way of introduction, that our theme tonight was to go Greek. And by ‘go Greek’ I don’t mean ‘wear a suit and tie to football games’ or ‘attend win-a-date auctions with functional alcoholics’. We’re talkin’ straight up democracy-inventing-Olympic-Games-dominating-banging-out-goddesses-disguised-as-mortals-or-swans GOING GREEK. And this would require gyrating. Gyroing? Doner kebab.     

Only ninjas can be trusted.

  As you can see, doner kebab is basically a huge chunk of meat which rotates on a spit waiting to be shaved down and tucked into a pita. According to my sources, doner kebab came to Greece via the Turks, who, after a raucous all-nighter of chariot races and pouring out libations with their Hellenic brethren and sistas, were positively famished, but waaaaay too tired to get up and find a fork (who hasn’t been there!) So, they simply un-sheathed their swords and hacked off some slices (we can only assume those of the hoi polloi armed with bows and arrows explains the invention of the kebab skewer.)  

"After Party"

The First Kebab

  This low-effort-high-return method of food preparation continues to thrive across the pond today, where, for fun-loving youths, kebab shops are the European equivalent of Wendy’s All Night Drive Thru. Since the Pizza What chefs happen to be vegetarian (SPOILER ALERT: so will all the pizzas…) we clearly were not going to have an actual meat tornado. But our goal was to harness the spirit and as much of the look as possible using our old friend Seitan.  

An entire package of WGF, soy sauce, a little miso to make up for the lack of enough soy sauce, mix together and simmer for an hour in a Big Pot. During simmertime, Cheese rummaged through the machine shop of 1280 N. Main St to find a suitable skewering device. And he came back with a 5 foot pole. Yeah, we’re kind of a big deal.      

      

Sadly, the seitornado would not stop doing the fireman’s slide down the skewer! Our dreams of kebaberation began to crumble like Oddyseus’ dreams of being home from Troy by dinner. Alas, discouraged but ne’er defeated, we de-skewered the seitan blob and sliced it up. Point of interest, the seitan, which was of an uneven consistency this time, had little pockets of air that were particularly tough. It was definitely more meaty than our last batch, and came a little closer to lamb or pork than chicken. Ya know… if you’re into that kind of thing.  

      

Next, we chopped up onions, tomatoes, cucumbers, some sun-dried tomatoes (which I purchased in bulk, so expect SDT cameos in several of our next pizza features)… Zeustastic.      

      

      

Sauce this time was a spicy pepper hummus with eggplant meze layered on top:      

      

     

Combined all our ingredients and dumped them on top of the crust; the effect pretty much resembling a cuddle-puddle of post-battle Spartan soldiers from 300:    

     

Add a can of chic peas and a tub of feta cheese because… well… doi. The Parthenon is practically made out of the stuff.     

     

Into the oven aaaaaaaand PRESTO!    

     

     

Veni, vedi, ate. The pizza is cast. Heck, we might as well been eating it off pieces of the Acropolis here (though Mama Cheese’s beautiful handmade plates could put red figure to shame.)     

  
Fig. 1. Blue plate special.

So, readers, at this point most of you are thinking to yourselves, “I swear. Everytime I think I’ve seen the most delicious pizza ever created, Pep n’ Cheese come out with something so amazing it reshapes my entire philosophy of eating.” This is normal. It will continue. But some of you (yeah, like you… with the face) may be experiencing a slight nagging feeling, generally ignore-able but incessant, like the buzzing of a mosquito or your mom asking you if you’ve cleaned your room: “Was this truly a KRAZY pizza? Or was it merely an Olympian Greek pizza?” In response, I offer you this story: “in the year 75 BCE,  while sailing to Greece, Caesar was kidnaped by Cilician pirates and held for ransom. When informed that they intended to ask for 20 talents, he insisted that he was worth at least 50. He maintained a friendly, joking relationship with the pirates while the money was being raised, but warned them that he would track them down and have them crucified after he was released. He did just that, with the help of volunteers, as a warning to other pirates, but he first cut their throats to lessen their suffering because they had treated him well.” The moral should be clear: if you dare to question Pizza What, There Will Be Marinara. I mean BLOOD!    

But what to CALL it? This pizza represents all the bounty of Zeus and Athena, O oracle of satisfied tummies! But it’s piled on a homemade pizza crust, O undertaking of Roman hubris! Could there possibly be a single nomenclature that would capture both Greek and Italian culinary heritages as well as convey the historical significance of such a combination in the Pizza What oeuvre? I think you know where I’m going with this…    

Pizza #4, I hereby dub you “the Caesar Milan“.    

  

Especially because after Cheese puts enough spicy stuff on it, this pizza is officially in the Red Zone. Welcome to our pack, Pizza #4. Love, The Pizza Whisperers…     

Pizza #4 recap: homemade crust, chick peas, feta, hummus, eggplant meze, red onion, cucumber, tomato (sun-dried and fresh) seitan.  

Drop the freakin' panpipes and get me another slice!