You know by now that I have a fiancée, and you may remember that he engineers things with finesse and relative ease. He has certainly outdone himself this time by researching, drafting and building a brick oven. A simple, no nonsense wood-burning brick oven. On wheels.
Since we’ve been together, his desire to create the perfect pizza has evolved into an obsession. The fact that our ovens only went up to 555° F, not 800°, was a personal insult. And let’s not even bring up the disgust when we initially couldn’t find semolina flour. At first I raised my eyebrows at this pizza obsession. I’ve since come to embrace it as a blessing.
After several successful ‘seasoning’ fires in his oven throughout the week, Saturday’s test-run came with much anticipation, and a twinge of anxiety on his behalf. I say that the oven is his because it’s his dream, his sweat and man-hours, his baby. I was there for moral support and menial tasks — fetch water for the mortar, pour him tall glasses of sun tea, collect kindling.
For the test-run we had:
+ a sausage, mushroom, onion pizza with red chilli flakes and fennel seeds
+ a caramelized onion, rosemary, garlic, Pecorino, olive oil and pine nut pizza
And just as I told him it would, the baking went off without a hitch; the meal, beyond wonderful. (Even though in all the excitement I forgot to add the mushrooms.)
Crusts charred and bubbly, the baguette so rustic it seemed criminal to use a knife, a fully functioning, movable brick oven — his work fills me with a similar intense pride that inspires parents to adorn their offices with finger paintings, pipe cleaner butterflies and misshapen pottery.
Like any perfectionist — or your average pizza obsessed engineer — he’s already scheming a larger oven, and I’ll gladly fill the role of his spirited cheerleader and gofer. I’ve come to learn there are few things more delicious than a pile of hot-off-the-bricks pizza slices, a hearty Italian red, the Dean Martin Pandora station livening up the background, and enjoying it with the one who made it all possible. I am one lucky beneficiary.