Every native Philadelphian has a special place in her heart for pretzels, and I am no exception. As Wikipedia will tell you, “in the 19th century, Southern German and Swiss German immigrants introduced the pretzel to North American.” (Thank you, Southern German and Swiss German immigrants.) “The immigrants became known as the Pennsylvania Dutch, and in time, many handmade pretzel bakeries populated the Central Pennsylvania countryside, and the pretzel’s popularity spread.”
And so it went. By the time I came along in the mid 1980s, pretzels had been a Philadelphia staple for almost 200 years. Every class party, every field trip, every football game, every city street corner featured Philly pretzels. Oblong, crusty, salty, and moist on the outside, white and soft on the inside, and squeezed together shoulder to shoulder. Continue reading
My attitude toward pizza was relatively neutral for the first quarter century of my life. My childhood memories of pizza strike me either as deliciously excellent or just plain gross. While I always looked forward to Franzone’s pizza, with its sweet sauce swirled over salty cheese and to Ocean Pizza after a day spent playing on the raft at the beach house, I also remember suspiciously eyeing frozen and perfectly rectangular Ellio’s Pizza and cringing as Mansoor put mustard on his pizza during lunch in second grade.
Then came Pizza a Casa. In year 26, I stumbled into pizza enlightenment, and now I am practically a prosthelytizer. Pizza a Casa is a fabulous pizza-focused cooking class on
NYC’s Lower East Side. Mark and Jenny, a terrific (and newly married – congrats!) couple have perfected the art of teaching a group of enthusiastic but unskilled tourists and natives the art of making homemade pizza. Mark and Jenny are pizza connoisseurs for sure, but their focus during the four hour class is imparting recipes, techniques, and tool recommendations that suit the average home cook in the average kitchen. No fancy brick oven in your microscopic New York kitchen? No problemo.