The Tao of Pizza

My natural inclination was to rest on Fridays and order pizza. As mentioned in my latest piece, Too Clean? Dealing With Our New Dietary Diseases, due to a chronic disease that has occupied my body, I usually fall ill every time I consume pizza brought to my door. The Friday night menu has been re-worked and become homemade pizza night. Despite a tiring long week, it’s become a family tradition that each of us now looks forward to. Making homemade pizza takes time, but we have discovered that this “slow food” meal beholds a lot of virtuous gems for myself and the whole family alike. 

Here is some encouragement to create your very own pizza night:

The meal should stay with you longer than 20 bites

Ever feel so disappointed how quickly a highly-anticipated meal can be over? When food takes longer to plan for and prepare, one feels more accomplished and the overall process is more satisfying. Considering the fact that dough is something that needs to be planned at least 18-24 hours in advance, I would definitely qualify pizza as a “slow food” which is more about quality time with loved ones than filling the belly. While the yeast fungi are working their magic, one has plenty of time to dream up of which fun ingredients to bring to the party.

Pizza night can play up the artistic and creative side

Never before had I imagined that I would have an orange duck mushroom pizza refashioned from the previous night’s dinner. “Daikon radish as a pizza topping!?” My former self would question my present self. Even more fun is involving the whole family and seeing what the kids want to try or which unique combos the family arrives at based on household preferences and ingredients found in the fridge. Because of my pre-schooler’s love for all things pickled, I now often enjoy capers as a pizza topping.

It’s your opportunity to reinvent the pizza
Seize the opportunity. You aren’t limited to the same 20 fairly standardized ingredients found on most pizzeria's menus. We don’t buy any ingredients for pizza night; we work with what’s already in the leftover boxes and the cheese and vegetable drawers. I gave up pork ten years ago and out the door went sausage pizza as well. When my husband declared that he wanted to make me a sausage pizza, I was skeptical as I did not want to get my hopes up too high thinking I might get a chance to capture a taste so fondly missed. The husband minced some garlic bison summer sausage from Eichtens, sauteed some garlic, peppers, and onions provided by Harmony Valley Farm and then topped the pizza with rich Gruyere and Emmental cheeses--I fell in love with pizza all over again. Because the ingredients were taken from our own fridge, we knew that the quality and taste of the ingredients would stand up to our wildest pizza creations.
Sneak in a lesson or two for your children (or even the amateur cooks in your life)
Hands on learning is hands-down way cooler than words in a book (or on a screen). From weighing the dough to using measuring cups and spoons, there are a lot of mathematical concepts to be learned. The transformation of dry and wet ingredients into a dough and then ultimately a delicious pizza, provides countless lessons on project development, time management (think patience), and basic chemistry. Let the kids decide on the ingredients and you bolster their self confidence and inspire creativity.

Encourage fine motor skills and the value of perseverance by getting their hands into the dough for some rolling and tossing. I have learned to “let go” and enjoy the opportunity to watch my children become the master chef. The dough may be look like abstract art and have a few holes in it and the pile of cheese may topple over, but this is their moment to learn from and to savor. Like us, children feel supremely satisfied when they hold in their hands something created from the most simple, basic ingredients. Of course there will be a fine mess of sticky fingers and flour all over the floor, but the time spent together will become memories that last a lifetime (and the pizza always tastes good, no matter what it looks like).
In the end, I know I will undoubtedly cherish the moments spent together creating the family masterpieces much more so than the moments consuming the fast-food version. I have learned that I can have my pizza and eat it too!



Leigh Ann Ahmad was dragged kicking and screaming to the Cities by her husband; having been born and bred in Cleveland, Ohio, she just could not fathom how colder could be better. Now, five years and two kids later, she cannot imagine a better place to play and thrive. She’s a reformed carb-aholic, wannabe writer, social justice advocate, book- club geek, veggie grower and local foods connoisseur. Her last article for SGT was, Too Clean?