When my foodie sister came to Italy to visit me, we took our own little food and wine tour around town, and one stop we had to make was the supposed best Pizza town, Nicola’s. Her plan to find an original and thoughtful gift for her boyfriend that day had failed, until it hit her that she could bring a little bit of Italy to him in the form of pizza dough.
As good as the idea sounded at the time, the steps to execute it were not quite thought through. As the Italian speaker in our duo she prodded me to ask “Nicola”—and perhaps it was the real Nicola—for a piece of his pie no matter how much it cost. Me, not being such an assertive person, felt the pressure to do this one favor for my sister, and so it went:
“Uh… hi, yes umm we were wondering if it would be possible to have a piece of dough?”
“A piece of what?”
The cashier looked at me dumbfounded, and as we waited for him to get the boss, which both my sister and I assumed was the real Nicola, we held our breath. Nicola was a medium sized man with gray hair, wearing beige pants and a white dress shirt rolled up at the sleeves, so as not to get it dirty while he flipped his pizzas. He came over to us smiling, which somehow prompted me to repeat my question, if at all possible even more embarrassed than the first time. By the look on his face it was obvious that this was the first time anyone had had such a strange request.
With somewhat of a chuckle he said, “No, I’m sorry but I can’t do that.”
As I translated this to my sister I suddenly became the mediator to her pleading.
“Please, it’s a present for her boyfriend in New York, it would mean so much.”
“Oh you’re going to make my pizza in New York?”
He turned to his colleagues and said, “These girls are gonna make my pizza in New York.”
As if the words ‘New York’ suddenly convinced him we weren’t recipe thieves from some rival pizza joint in town, he suddenly became glad to give us a piece of his original dough for us to bring to the big apple. He packed up a big ball of Bologna’s finest into white cookie sheets and we said our grateful goodbyes.
Feeling a wave of relief Tanya and I decided to get a glass of wine at Zanarini’s in the center of town. Trying to find parking in any city is quite a challenge, so when we saw a space open in a driveway in front of the shop we looked at each other wondering if was ok to park there. But, when we saw another car park there we decided we were in the clear. As we sat down outside, ready to unwind and order our vino, as if synchronized in a film, a police car pulled up and all three of the cars parked around ours hit the road. Fortunately, it was just a coincidence, since the policeman seemed uninterested in our parking situation and went on his way.
Finally with a moment to relax we tried to come up with schemes to tackle the next problem to our pizza dough gifting plans: How to smuggle the dough onto the plane. We went through your basic plan of wrapping the dough in Ceran-wrap and packing it in a jar of peanut butter so the drug-sniffing dogs won’t smell it, all the way to to stuffing it in a sacrificial teddy bear. I could just imagine how that scenario would pan out:
“No officer, that’s not a kilo crack cocaine in that teddy bear, it’s a kilo of Bolognese pizza dough.”
So, we decided to keep it simple, and two days later Tanya was serving her boyfriend 100% authentic Bolognese pizza. Little did he know that the dough spent 5,000 miles sitting in her bra cups.