Sometimes, I think about pizza.
There I’ll be, minding my own business, and suddenly, there is a piece of pizza in my head. A hot, gooey, stretchy mess of cheese and fat. It was one of my most favourite foods.
I’m not gonna lie, peeps, vegan pizza is the one food I have not been able to recreate adequately to satisfy the heart and soul. But staunchly, I stayed the course, eating my rice and beans (which I actually really love!) while everyone else in the house noshed down on that finger-licking perfect pie of my past.
It’s ok – I’m more than happy knowing my food did not contribute to the pain and oppression of the meat and dairy industries – but still, the Culinary Creative Carol part of me was challenged to design a vegan pizza that even a carnivore would love.
It’s like when my ex used to tell me “no” or “don’t do that or else” – what was I supposed to do? Listen? Tow the line? Pfffff hell no. Challenge accepted!
My epiphany about pizza occurred last week when I went to Toronto with my friend Joanne and her daughter, Tatiana. We had lunch at a pizza place called “Apiecolypse Now” There were a range of different pizzas that looked distinctly unpizza-like except for the crust, and suddenly, the skies opened up and beams of angelic light played down upon us like gentle harp strokes as the beatific choir sang “aaahhhhhhhhh” in perfect, melodic, harmony.
Not really. It was more like a slap upside the head as my brain yelled “Holy shit! I never thought about doing this to pizza! Amaze-balls!”
There were pizza topping combinations I couldn’t even imagine: there was a pizza topped with nachos; there was a big mac pizza; there was traditional cheese style; plant-based pepperonis, bacons, and ground not-meat; there were non-dairy feta cheeses, Notzzarellas, plant-based cheddars, tons of different veggies; different types of sauces; the permutations were endless and delicious and totally, completely, pushed traditional pizza boundaries.
So I realized, it wasn’t about recreating the pizza, IT WAS ABOUT REINVENTING IT! Creating a new type of pizza with it’s own flavours and with its own identity.
So I ordered the most unpizza-like pie on the menu: The Fat Mac (Big Mac copycat). This pizza had a plant-based meat topping, with onions, pickles, cheese, lettuce, special sauce on a sesame seed pie crust. I needed to taste it and see if it really did taste like a Big Mac, and more importantly, decide whether lettuce belonged on pizza! I needed to determine the ingredients used to recreate it at home. If it could be done at home, then I could recreate any other favourite food item into a pizza and revolutionize vegan pizzas completely so they no longer had to compete with the real thing, but could stand apart from and alone as its own entity.
Like I said: Challenge Accepted!
I was wielding my spatula like a samurai, peeps. Herbs, spices, plant-based proteins: check! Flour coated the surfaces, cast through the air like semolina wraiths. Vegan mayo transformed into Mac sauce with a few simple ingredients. Vidalia onions and sammich pickles found new life in a fine dice job. Pizza dough flew onto a pan like a UFO. It was a thing of beauty, peeps. I kid you not.
When it came out of the oven all bubbly and hamburgerly, I added the finely chopped lettuce and drizzled the Mac sauce all over it. The earth was created in seven days, according to Bible thumpers. In this case, Big Mac Perfection was created in an hour.
I did it.
The Big Mac Pizza was born. And I saw that it was good.
OMFG peeps, it was so tasty, if you like Big Macs, which I definitely do. The flavour was identical, but it was healthier (no animal fats, no cholesterol, lower in calories) and no one was harmed in the process. Win-win for all concerned.
And I learned an important lesson. Sometimes it’s better to embrace new things than hold onto and try to recreate old things. Sometimes old things are old things for a good reason, and maybe they should stay old things, because we’ve progressed beyond that.
Frankly, I’m lovin’ it!