Pandora’s Pizza Box: Pizza Massacre of ’09
It’s no secret to anyone who knows me in three dimensional reality that I am not “domesticated” in any way, shape, or form. If being a mother required more than getting knocked up and taking amazing drugs during labor, I would have just bought a kid. Or a dog. I probably would have bought a dog. You can lock those guys in the house or in the back yard all day and child services won’t get all bent out of shape about it.
One thing I found out relatively early on was that a kid has to be fed daily. Sometimes up to three times a bloody day. Apparently society frowns on just tossing food in a bowl with your child’s name embossed on the outside. Society insists that your child be feed regularly and from human serving ware. When did this get so buggery complicated? Don’t get me started on the whole diaper thing. Letting your child crawl around your back yard and encouraging him to drop his eye watering baby scat wherever he happens to be is a touchy subject.
Fine. I can adjust. I’ll deal. I made an agreement with my son as soon as he was able to consume solids; Mommy doesn’t cook. Mommy can re-heat, warm up, microwave, and order out. Cooking from scratch is completely unrealistic for someone with my skill set. I can research, I can write, I can teach, I cannot cook. It’s something passed down throughout the generations of women in my family. Some genetic traits relate to being good with electronics, public speaking, or artistic capability. Not my family. The complete inability to cook, along with aesthetic perfection, is the dominant genetic trait in our womenfolk.
That having been said, I still decided to go against the very structure of my DNA and give it a go, anyway. My son, my wonderful, understanding, and oh so forgiving son was just about to have a birthday. He’s a toddler and is relatively easy to please. My boy is also far more realistic and practical than his mother. But, damn it, I wanted to pretend to be one of those mothers for his birthday. The kind to make a meal with actual ingredients instead of just piercing holes in the microwavable package and pressing “start.” This was my son’s birthday, damn it! I will do this! Failure is not a bloody option!
I began to plan. The palettes of most children make for easy meals. The odds that a child will fancy gently seared tilapia with a white wine sauce and a hint of a truffle reduction are pretty remote. More often than not, the kid will want something that can be found on any children’s menu. My son has an affinity for pizza, as most children do. This will lay the foundation for his college years when his low rent apartment is littered with empty pizza boxes and mostly empty cans of Old Milwaukee. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Pizza was a good idea. How hard could it be? When you get down to it, a pizza is just a large cracker with tomato sauce and cheese, right? After everything is thrown together, toss it into the oven and program it for bake, or something. I had a plan. This must be how those cheeky women on the Food Network feel on their shows. That’s right, Sandra Lee, I understand now. I’ve learned the importance of correct preparation and following directions. Sort of. To tell the truth, I’ve only really started watching “Semi Homemade with Sandra Lee“, because I have a thing for well built blonds. Sue me.
At least I’m honest.
I searched Google to find the best pizza recipe on the interwebs. When I say “best” I mean easy. When I say “easy” I mean basically bakes itself. Going to market for one of those frozen pizza deals was not an option. I didn’t want to cheat. I’m a mother, sod it! Every mother should make a homemade meal for her child at least once in her life. Then, afterward, never do so ever again.
I had a list of ingredients to purchase. I was even going to make the dough from scratch. You heard me. 100% of this birthday pizza was going to be authentic. In one fell swoop, I can outshine all my female ancestors by actually preparing an edible meal. The problem, I found, was the complete and utter lack of confidence my impending meal creation inspired.
One by one, those I care about shook their heads as if I told them I wanted to build my own nuclear power plant out of toothpicks, cupcakes, and a tampon machine. They all cited historic cooking attempts that may or may not have resulted in fiery anger. One smart ass pillock (that’s a British insult, in case you were wondering) gave me a fire extinguisher as a gift. Ha, bloody, ha.
When it came down to it, not even my own flesh and blood held much hope for this endeavor. I proudly told my son that I was going to make him his favourite meal in the world for his birthday. His eyes got big upon hearing the news. I fully expected praise to be lavished upon mother by son. Instead my son and his inhumane sense of practicality hit me with a perfect storm of guilt and inadequacy. “Oh, Mommy, no.” he said in a tone more serious than most children his age would have used after just being informed of birthday surprise of this caliber. He reached out and touched my arm as if to say
“Woman, my mother. Please do not undertake this challenge. We all know of your limits. Putting pan to burner is beyond them. Spare yourself the eventual feeling of ultimate failure and us from the inevitable wrath that will flow forth from you like spewing lava from an awakened volcano.”
Right, then. The world was against this. It was just me and my master plan. Everyone told Orville Wright he was crazy before he went out and invented his brother, Wilbur. They said the sound barrier could never be broken. It was. I will floor the naysayers by achieving my end goal, flawlessly. It’s no longer just a homemade pizza. It’s a symbol of second chances for shitty cooks everywhere. All that egotistical bollocks aside, ultimately, I want to do this for my son, whether he thought it was a good idea or not. I’m an awesome mother like that.
I collected the necessary ingredients from the shop with relative ease. There was some confusion over the dough, however. Did you know that there is a plethora of different dough out there? I had no idea. Is there a difference? Where is the dough section? I figured it would be in the baking isle, but was sorely mistaken. Just cookies, brownies, and other shit that had nothing to do with what I was looking for.
I went to the bakery section in hopes that I could find dough there. Dough is bread, right? Well, it will be. It’s sort of like bread fetus, isn’t it? It’s not quite bread, but rather the stage before it becomes something you toast. Does that mean there is such a thing as bread abortion? Breadbortioin? What if someone decides they don’t want a loaf of bread after they have already kneaded the dough? That lump of dough would have been someone’s loaf of bread or bagel. Are there “right to risers” out there that fervently believe once a lump of dough is kneaded, it has the right to rise and become whatever pastry or strawberry jam vehicle it was intended to be. Where the bloody hell was I going with this?
After roughly twenty minutes of going from aisle to aisle at the store, I became visibly annoyed. Being a regular at this establishment (knowing I’m destructive if left to my own devices) an associate came over and straightened me out. Apparently, dough is in the freezer section. Who knew? I expressed my fear that there would be multiple steps involved with said dough. I was assured that it was completely ready for whatever I planned on throwing at it. I want to make my kid a pizza, but I’m not mad enough to make the dough from scratch. Not any more. I came to my senses.
Next thing I knew, I was setting my instruments of destruction up. One knife to cut the pepperoni? Check. Bags of shredded cheese? Check. Dough? You bet your ass, check. I unfolded the recipe and went headlong into it. Lord, there are a lot of directions here, aren’t there? Okay, knead and flatten dough. I have that covered. It’s rather fun beating the tar out of something that can’t fight back. I imagine this is how Joe Jackson felt, without all that mess down the road. I can beat the holy hell out of this dough and not have to worry about it posing for Playboy, exposing its misshapen breast during the Superbowl, or being accused of freely handing out “Jesus Juice” to kids in its bedroom.
My dogs and cat watched me from the doorway. They knew something was going down, but just weren’t sure what it was, yet. When it happened, they wanted to have front row seats. It’s like the extra sense animals have when a tornado is on the horizon. I guess, in this case, I was the tornado. Bloody animals.
Toss the dough? Really? I re-read the directions to make sure I wasn’t going daft. Yes, it says to toss the dough. Alright, I will. I’ve seen it done. You just throw it in the air and catch it, right? How hard can that possibly be?
Following the suggested method, I tossed the dough; over my head and straight into the kitchen sink. Shit! I debated whether or not I should just take the heap of sticky, mistreated dough out the sink and just dust it off. On second thought, I hear botulism is rather nasty. One probably shouldn’t pass along a foodborne illness to her child.
This was a test run. That’s what I told myself when I pitched the vexing lump of dough out the window. Unfortunately, I had forgotten I parked my car underneath. As if it had a mind of its own, the chunk of aborted pizza dough crash landed onto the windshield. Bloody bastard.
I then decided that cheating, without anyone knowing, isn’t really cheating. I ran back to the market looking for answers. The same associate made a bee line towards me. It was almost as he expected me to come back, aggravated and defeated. He lead me straight away to a pre-made pizza crust. It was sort of like one of those pre-made pie crusts you buy when all you really want to do is pour filling into a shell. I bought three.
I wasn’t home for five minutes when I realized an important ingredient for pizza is tomato sauce. This time, I went to another grocer. I just couldn’t bear to go back to the same one and reveal just how much of a culinary retard I truly am.
Finally. I have all the ingredients AND a pre-made pizza crust. I winged it, doing what I saw on television. Put the sauce on, cheese, peperoni. Thank Jesus. I stood there and looked upon my hard earned, fully prepared, pizza. The instructions told me to set the oven for 350 (or something like that) and throw it in. So I did.
Funny thing about baking; the oven actually needs to be pre-heated. So, essentially, for the amount of time allotted for a successful pizza to be properly baked, one should really make sure the oven is ready to go. Not, I. I had no idea what that little red light was. It said “pre-heat.” Logically, I assumed that meant the oven was sufficiently heated. No. It apparently doesn’t work that way.
It was stone cold. I opened the oven door at exactly the halfway point to check it. The bloody cheese was just starting to melt. What the bloody blue hell? I re-read the instructions. Pre-heat? Yeah, the light was on. It was pre-heated. Right? Ah, fuck!
How the hell was I supposed to know the oven wasn’t the proper temperature until the pre-heat light went OFF? That’s ridiculous. I don’t need a bloody light to tell me something is happening. I need it when that something is DONE. My fuel light isn’t constantly on to tell me I have enough petrol. It blinks on when I need to fill the tank. An action is needed and a light flashes to alert me. Tosser.
By this time my significant other and son came home. the boyfriend came into the kitchen just as I was about to throw the mutinous pizza out the window (completely forgetting about the consequences of doing something similar a few hours before). He quickly explained the logic behind the pre-heat light and talked me down from the proverbial ledge. The boy came in to give me a cheerful “Hello.” I had to fake it. I couldn’t let on that his mother was incapable of making one pizza in five hours. I know for sure it would come up in one of his future therapy sessions.
This time I waited for the bloody pre-heat light to go OFF. Fucker. The kitchen looked like the aftermath of the Battle of Pusan Perimeter. Open plastic packages and remnants of dough were everywhere. Then, the most beautiful sound in the world echoed in the air. The little oven ding telling me that it was over. It was finished. The battle had ceased. Despite friendly suggestions like “Sweet Jesus! It’s time to order Domino’s” I triumphed. I proved I was better than a circular piece of dough with tomato sauce and cheese.
My son didn’t get ill and actually liked the hard won pizza creation. I gave him a birthday hug and told him that, next year, he was getting cash.