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Anyway, the other day I was once again sorting through my bookshelves and became reacquainted with It Must've Been Something I Ate, an award-winning collection of essays by Jeffrey Steingarten. Then I had a duh moment. I didn't have to read the whole book before writing about it. So, finally, I tried one of the stories. It took me only twelve years to get around to reading it.
Probably because I recently read and reviewed Delancey, I decided to read Steingarten's "Perfection Pizza," originally published in August 2000. What a fun story about his obsession with trying to make the perfect home pizza.
He starts by talking about his newest toy, an instant-read noncontact infrared thermometer:
Sure, it cost way too much. Yes, I should have used the money to upgrade my footwear instead, or have a makeover But everyone turns green with envy when I demonstrate my ST-8, especially the men and boys.From there he talks about some of the best pizza places in New York and gives us a little history about his favorite pizza styles: Neapolitan and Neapolitan-American. After using his thermometer on wood- and coal-fired ovens in city restaurants, Steingarten attempts to re-create the same conditions at home, with mixed success. Here's what's happened when he tried to fool his home oven's thermostat:
The results were brilliant, especially in concept. My oven, believing incorrectly that its temperature was near the freezing point, went full blast until thick waves of smoke billowed from every crack, vent, and pore, filling the house with the palpable signs of scientific success. Yes, the experiment had to be cut short, but it had lasted longer than the Wright brothers' first flight. Inside the oven was a blackened disk of dough pocked with puddles of flaming cheese. I had succeeded beyond all expectations.After a number of other misdirected attempts (setting the oven to the clean cycle, trying different grill configurations), he finally found a solution or two. Steingarten ends his tale by sharing his crust and sauce recipes.
If the other essays in Jeffrey Steingarten's It Must've Been Something I Ate are only half as entertaining, informative, and funny, then I know I have a lot of good reading ahead. Maybe I'll get around to reading a second story before another dozen years go by.
Published by Random House / Knopf, 2003 (paperback shown here)
Source: Bought (hardcover) (see review policy)
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