THE WHITE PIE
Many many meals ago, as part of my first Chowhounds posting I vowed not to waste anyones time. Not to create vanity posts and only comment when I thought I had something substanstial to add to the community and its dialogue.
When the pangs of hunger meld with the onset of boredom I'll often fire up the machine and see what the chatter is on Chowhound. A short time ago, I saw a request from someone seeking where they might find a WHITE PIE. A white pie is a pizza using no tomato sauce but instead, an array of "white" chesses.
Unable to locate the post requesting information regarding informaation / suggestions as to where one might find a "white pie", I will post my comments as a new topic.
I was once reprimanded by a regular contributor, that my posts to this site were "too wordy" with the direction that "brevity is wit" > be prepared: this is likely not to be a witty offering.
The above disclaimer stated > and away we go.
Tonight, hours ago, I consumed the greater part of possibly, not the best, but the "perfect" by my standards, "WHITE PIE". My taste buds agreed with my intellectual determination and my emotional responders had no recourse but to follow suit. I am proud to report, I did hold back any tears of joy and satisfaction. But know they were aching to sing. To sing, to drip, to run down my cheeks.
The joint where the irregular circular pie was created was a blaze with faces from every continetnt. Every socioeconomic ilk. Every class, fashion derivative, religious bent. Scholars, hucksters, artists, an past girlfriend I hadn't seen fro 20 years, working class heros, vagabonds, elitist preppies and minstrals shared the space with respect for eachothers fortitude and patience, grounded in their common quest and respect for quality grub. This joint is the most democratic place on the planet. It's the salon of our times. It's where opinionated individuals gather to discuss with heated ferver the topics of the day. No pussy-footin' here. State your opinions. Loud and firm. Hold fast. Listen with intent. Through the mingled din of scratchy opera and "belly up to the bar" impassioned conversation, cutting through the chared aroma of tomato, garlic, basil, panchetta & porcini and all forms of exotic foodstuffs the periodic call of "square with peppers and broccoli rabe" silence the throngs as all eyes follow the steaming pie sitting upon its silver platter.
This is the general atmosphere in the joint > ALL THE TIME. ALL THE TIME! ALL THE F__KIN' TIME!!!
Tonight as I inched my way towards the counter lined 7 wisemen deep I began to see a specific pie fomulate in my mind. My stomach was in on the active conversation, the fluid debate. I smelt and tasted the options, the various combinations. Eye to eye with the master - greetings exchanged, I placed my order with the confidence of a gladiator entering the arena and withdrew to secure a table.
I was confident I had ordered well.
I chose the short side of a long table. Facing the front door I had a perfect view of the stage; I mean the maestro, the devout, the curiousity seekers, the believers, the converts. The clowns and the seekers of truth. They are the world!
Ah what Fellini would have made of this scene.
I swabbed the deck, uncorked a bottle of Malbec, took a glass from my bag (I don't consider myself a snob of any kind, but I hate drinking wine from paper or plastic) greeted my fellow dinners, broke the binding on a volume of Kessey and settled in.
Alternating chapters and sips and sips and conversation, relaxed amidst the hub-bub, I'm in my element. Surrounded by the most interesting people in the world, people willing to endure indescribable humilliation and hardship < not really, to enjoy the edible gifts of an artisan, the last of a breed. Believe me > THE LAST OF A BREED.
"WHITE PIE" "WHITE PIE": It must be an auditory hallucination, I'm not ready, I didn't prepare myself. OK, a deep breath and I'm up > "excuse me please". THERE IT IS! Smoke dancing upwards like a belly dancer, ungulating from my pie. The aroma disapates and fills the room with holy insense. All eyes are upon the silver disc holding the masterpiece high above my head.
"Back off pal - this is mine baby!" I mean, "yes it is a thing to behold my friend, my brother and I'm sure yours will be out in a moment." "NOW BACK OFF PAL!!!"
I make my way back to my table / my spot and place the tray before me.
"Patience, patience my son" > where the hell's that voice coming from?
Screw that > I'm freakin' starvin' here. OK - OK.
The tray, THE WHITE upon it, before me I take it in with all the senses at my disposal. I bury my head in the middle of the rising fregrant infused steam. My eyes instinctivly close and a smile forms on my lips. I'm reminded of a cassoulet I discovered in France. Of the clould of aroma which burst thru the fissured golden crust as I, in one deliberate blow cracked the case. (to read about that expirence go to the France Board and search 'LE TROU', if you like). I open my eyes, it's still there > the gods haven't played a cruel trick on me, NO ONE SWIPPED IT WHILE MY EYES WERE CLOSED.
SIMMER DOWN BROTHER - YOU'RE AMONG FRIENDS.
The crust boardering the perimeter of my WHITE PIE is alternating between a blistered beige. a golden amber, a chocolate bronze to a smokey char. The first layer of the pie is of evenly distributed fresh mozzarella. Pure white bubbling gold, oiled richly.
I THINK I'M GONA PASS OUT FROM THE SENSE MEMORY!
Placed, plopped haphazardly on top of the base layer are pools of molten creamy buffalo mozzarella out of which are small virgin white mountians of fresh clean ricotta cheese. Sprinkled as stars plucked from the heavens is a melange of russet colored morsals. Bits, chuncks and hunks of crisped fat edged pancetta. A dusting of parmagino - reggiano freshly ground in a machine that seems as if it itself would transport the user to a time long past in a small Itialian village. A final sprinkling of life - vibrant green fresh fresh fresh basil. THERE IT IS!
A canvas to rival any of the masters. Pure whites, smooth golden whites, fluid pools of purest white de white. Mounds of gentle textured off white - the 7 hill of Rome? Specks, swiggles, petit bricks of russet-rouge and green leaf life. All protected, walled by a smokey chared, blistered crisp serpent. Pollack, Veermer, Michelangelo...
OK- SHUT UP AND EAT!
I'm sorry. I don't have the words to describe the taste. The distint flavors and textures; independent and mingled. The smokey crust - the smooth oily mozzarella. The sharp, salty crackling crispy pancetta accenting the clean freshness of the ricotta. The sweetness. The piquant of the parmagano reggiano sprinkling, subtlety coating the whole. Not overpowering. A present vapor extending all the virious flavors. Always the undertone of the char. The basil creeps into your taste just at the right moments to let you know your eating a living thing. A thing, a construct of the earth. Fabricated, cooked with respect. Love? Yes, love but more then love, a deep and appreciative respect.
A perfect meal :a PERFECT (by my standards) WHITE PIE, a bottle of fruit forward < now there's one hell of a snotty phrase, wine, scratchy opera from a flour covered boom box, surrounded by people who are as diverse as one can imagine but with a collective, shared appreciation and a willingness to go through whatever is necessary for extrodinary food, an extrodinary expirence.
I distribute the remaining slices to fellow dinners waiting for their food. All appreciative. All so kind and civil, so other worldly. I ask two lovers if they'd like the remains of my wine. A crescendo builds from the flour covered boom box. I clean my table - take my leave.
Has it been a dream? No, it was a spectacular evening. I must admit, it had a poetic dreamlike air to it.
Maybe M. Fellini was in the directors chair? M. Fellini, "please - how do I tell Luna that I don't have a slice for her.