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Master Chef's Cooking Class: Pizza
Pizza - A savory culinary creation made by layering a wide variety of possible ingredients on a flattened disc of dough. It's the perfect example of a dish that can function as an entire meal.
Anyone can make their own pizza if they have access to well-prepared dough. At a fundamental level, one simply needs to spread tomato sauce over the dough, sprinkle one's preferred combination of cheeses, vegetables, and meats, and bake in a brazier or an oven. At the risk of over-simplifying the nuances, that's all there is to it!
It's said that pizza as we know it today evolved from a simple, convenient, and nutritious meal solution for those who had to stretch their limited budgets.
Now, the option to add toppings like seafood or mushrooms, or watching the strings of cheese lengthen as a slice is pulled away are just a few of the small pleasures we partake of when we enjoy a pizza.
Of course, every good pizza begins with good dough. Like many doughs, the recipe is simple: flour and yeast added to warm water, with just a pinch of salt. Then, just allow the dough to age at the right temperature.
When the dough is ready, it's spread or tossed into a round, flat sheet. Upon this doughy disc is spread a layer of tomato sauce, cheese, vegetables, and meats, and baked on high heat for 10 to 15 minutes.
The method just described is one of many ways to prepare pizza. Indeed, pizza itself is a canvas upon which one's culinary preferences can be painted! Take for instance the 'deep dish' style of pizza from the far-off city-state of Chicago, prepared shaping the dough into a sunken pan, allowing for the layering of even more crust, toppings, and cheese.
We must also mention the noble calzone, made by taking an uncooked pizza with all the ingredients, then folding it in on itself in a half-moon shape before baking it (the debate over whether calzones qualify as pizza continues to be a subject of heated debate in some circles).
Even vegetarians can get in on the action with pizzas tailored exclusively for their diet, featuring favorite ingredients like mushrooms and some more exotic choices, like Chinese yams.
Simple to make, great to eat, and customizable to personal or regional preferences, it's easy to see why pizza has become such a well-loved food the world over.
Indeed, wherever friends or family come together for fun and fellowship, that's where pizza shines brightest...as long as you can get a group of people to agree on the toppings.