Monday, March 3, 2008
EAT YOUR HEART OUT, ANTHONY BOURDAIN! A VEGAN "SPLINTER FACTION" PIZZA PARTY!
The following passage by bad-boy chef/author Anthony Bourdain inspired my vegan friends Sarah and Gordon to invite a few other vegans over for a vegan "splinter faction" pizza party last Saturday.
"Vegetarians, and their Hezbollah-like splinter faction, the vegans, are a persistent irritant to any chef worth a damn. To me, life without veal stock, pork fat, sausage, organ meat, demi-glace, or even stinky cheese is a life not worth living. Vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit, and an affront to all I stand for, the pure enjoyment of food. The body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein. It's healthier, they insist, though every vegetarian waiter I've worked with is brought down by any rumor of a cold. Oh, I'll accommodate them, I'll rummage around for something to feed them, for a 'vegetarian plate', if called on to do so. Fourteen dollars for a few slices of grilled eggplant and zucchini suits my food cost fine." From Kitchen Confidential, by Anthony Bourdain, p. 70.
Here's a comment from Dec. 2001 issue of Satya magazine by Jack Rosenberger (sorry the link is no longer viable), which precisely echoes my own thoughts, on that very passage:
"This passage tells us a lot about Bourdain and almost nothing about vegetarianism. To write that 'vegetarians are the enemy of everything good and decent in the human spirit' is quite a sweeping statement. When I think of, for instance, well-known living vegetarians, the type of persons who come to mind are people like Jane Goodall and Paul McCartney, who are first-class humanitarians. As for vegetarianism being 'an affront' to 'the pure enjoyment of food,' Bourdain clearly never had the pleasure of dining at, say, the Angelica Kitchen in New York City. And his characterization of vegetarians as being solely health conscious— 'the body, these waterheads imagine, is a temple that should not be polluted by animal protein'”—conveniently ignores the fact that many persons who are vegetarians are so for environmental and ethical reasons. As for the vegetarian waiters who are allegedly 'brought down by even the rumor of a cold,' well, if there’s a literary society somewhere that hands out awards for the most ridiculous writing, I hope it bestows an award upon Bourdain. He clearly deserves it."
And, might I add, Mr. Bourdain reveals not only his ignorance, but his lack of imagination as a chef!
Well, we all thought it was a great excuse for a party, and everyone brought their own dough, sauces and toppings (and I brought my new Cuisinart Brickoven for an extra oven). One of our party had never made a yeast dough before, AND she tried a kamut flour dough! She was really nervous about it, but it was just great!
Suzanne stressing over her kamut pizza dough, which was a big hit!
Gordon made a thin crust pizza with caramelized onions, slices of fresh pear, and cracked pepper-- to die for! I made my Neapolitan pizza dough (UPDATE: recipe in my book World Vegan Feast) and my usual simple pizza sauce, and brought sliced marinated artichoke hearts, kalamata olives, roasted onions and portobello mushrooms, and roasted zucchini, eggplant, red pepper, and garlic, along with Sheese mozzarella, as toppings. But, you know, the cheese-less pizzas were all very delicious!
I was acting as sort of "pizza coordinator" with our hostess Sarah, so I didn't take any pictures. My husband did, but he always takes photos of people, not food! I forgot to remind him! So the pizza pics here are from former pizza feasts, but they are my pizzas!
Other topping combinations included: arugula with fresh tomatoes and lots of garlic; and spinach with pine nuts and homemade vegan "feta". There were others, but I can't even remember now! We shamelessly stuffed ourselves! We also had a lovely organic green salad, and some delicious appetizers, such as marinated cucumber spears, dried figs eaten with a beet relish (sounds weird, but it was divine!), nuts and other dried fruits. For dessert Sarah made a delectable Tofutti cheesecake, served with a strawberry coulis and lemon sorbet.
BTW, my little Cuisinart Brickoven performed really well-- better than the big oven! The pizzas baked in it (directly on the stone, at 500 degrees F) cooked quickly, and the edge of the crust blistered like a real stone oven pizza!
Here are a few more pictures of the fun. And, BTW, the floured overturned bowls on the counter were there in case anyone wanted to try stretching the partly-rolled out dough over them for a thin-crust pizza-- this is an easy alternative to spinning a pizza or stretching it on your knuckles. You drape the dough over an over-turned bowl (see picture below) and gently stretch it until it is the right size, using the weight of the dough stretch it. Work slowly so that you don’t tear the dough. If it does tear, by some chance, you can patch it and seal it again. The pizza does not have to be absolutely round! You can use a rolling pin only, but Neapolitans are of the opinion that this makes a flatter and less chewy crust.
Mike rolling the dough.
Prepping with Sarah in her new kitchen.
Fireweed taking a turn at rolling her dough.
Happy rolling, topping and baking!