Making your own pizza is one of the ultimate cooking experiences. It will always taste more delicious and special from frozen pizzas. Why? You’ve made the dough from scratch – kneading, stretching, tearing, reworking and repairing – your hands have been in it. You’ve made the sauce with patience, shredded the mozzarella balls without shaving off your fingertips, and stood guard resolutely in front of the oven. It’s misshapen and a little burnt on the edges, but it doesn’t matter, because when you finally dig in, you can smell and taste the passion that went into it.
When I was in kindergarten, my father joined me on one of my first school trips. The mission? Learn how to make pizzas at the neighbourhood Pizza Pizza – a popular Canadian franchise. At 4-years-old, I was almost a year younger than most of my classmates, and a lot smaller in size – I could barely see over the cold stainless steel counter. The other kids worked at the countertops with ease. I looked on in frustration as my classmates sped through the kneading of the dough, tossing the balls of flour into the air (some landing on the floor) and pressing them out flat to make two 5-inch pizzas – one for their parent and the other for themselves.
I remember looking up at my father feeling absolutely defeated. “You can do this. Think outside of the box,” my father whispered in my ear. That’s when I noticed two red milk crates sitting underneath the workstation. I flipped them over, stacked them on each other, and my father found a vacant large wooden cutting board and placed it on top of my new temporary workstation. My father kneaded the dough as I dusted the cutting board with flour and sped through all the toppings. As I watched intently through the glass oven door – the sight of shreds of mozzarella melting and bubbling into the sauce, and the smell of caramelized pepperoni filling the kitchen – I remember thinking to myself that it was difficult, but I had accomplished something I never knew I was capable of.
Food has a way of always being very wise. Whether you’re baking, cooking or even eating – food is surprisingly a great conduit to deeper learning.
Here are 3 life lessons I’ve learned from making pizza with my father:
- Simplicity is best
If you’re using the freshest ingredients, they need very little help. Prepare them in a way that showcases their delicious qualities, and you’ll be surprised, you might just have a classic on your hands such as a Pizza Margherita. Less is definitely more so don’t overload the pie with too many toppings. In the same breadth, keep your focus, be more deliberate on what’s truly important and do less; but do it all better.
- It’s ok to ask for help and support
Need help in cooking or in this case, making a pizza? There’s a beautiful balance that exists when you can genuinely ask for help, and also appreciate and receive support from others. Asking for help may sometimes make you feel vulnerable and insecure, but remember receiving help doesn’t mean you’re weak. On the contrary, humbling yourself to receive support is truly empowering because you also give the opportunity for others to contribute and be part of your life.
- Things may be up in the air, but it’ll turn out just fine
Tossing your pizza dough in the air? What if you pierce a hole in it? What if you don’t catch it? It’s dough after all – you can always knead it again, and reshape it. Are you stressed about an uncertain future? When you dwell on the stresses of uncertainty you focus on very limited possibilities and forget how great something can actually turn out. Enjoy the excitement of the unknown and give yourself space for creative problem-solving. Know that there are always options that you may be blinded from.
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