The Cosmic PizzaJune 26, 2010
Saturday nights, homemade pizza is a big deal around here. I make no claims to being any kind of chef, but it usually falls to me to be the architect of these things. My wife is a vegetarian, and I’m not, so my side of the pizza looks like something was sacrificed on it, and hers looks like a still life from the farmer’s market. We just pretend that none of the poison from her side will run over on to my side. We’re good with that.
From week to week no two pizzas are ever exactly alike. Some pizzas turn out better than others, and over the years we’ve had our favorites. We’ve also had the occasional dog, usually pizzas with some untested idea behind them, like the time we went to make a Mexican pizza and wound up mixing in too many Italian ingredients with the Mexican ingredients. It was like eating Taco Bell in your car and crashing into a Donatos. Just a bad scene all the way around.
I don’t measure a lot of things when I cook. Most weeks the smoke alarm goes off almost simultaneously as I open the oven to remove the pie, which of course makes me look like I use it as a timer. But tonight something really unbelievable happened.
I opened the oven door to take a peek. “Holy $%@#!”
“I think it’s perfect.”
“I think it might be.” To my utter astonishment—see, I’m not real anal and won’t just camp outside the oven door while the pie bakes—I seemed to have opened the door at the exact moment when the pie was at the peak of perfection. The cheese, the crust, the dead animals on my side, the vegetables on her side, it was actually a little mesmerizing. Like opening your oven to learn that the planets have just aligned a particular way—you expect to just look in and see a pizza, but instead find something kind of weird and cosmic. A moment sooner or later and I’m not sure it would have been the same.
I pulled it out and looked at it up close. It was so perfectly suspended between overdone and underdone, it was like you could look at it and easily imagine these other possibilities, kind of like some sort of hologram. I set it down on top of the stove. My wife walks in.
“Oh my god that is perfect.”
“Yeah.” I was still kind of freaked out. Then it hit me. “It’ll never happen again.”
The perfect pizza. Perfect in every way. Delivered like a cosmic mandala into the portal of our oven. But the eeriest part of all? The smoke alarm didn’t go off.