A couple months ago, I watched Eat Pray Love, as part of my Movies and Munchies group. I had never had a desire to watch said movie, but being a good sport, I went for it. But also being true to myself, I first read the book (which I also had never had an inclination to read).
If you read my Movies and Munchies post, you’ll remember that I was not a fan of the movie (fun fact, in discussing the movie with my mom, she legit thought it was a fictional story because of how ludicrous it was). And though I posted about the movie first, I actually read the book first, but the recipe I wanted to make was in depth and required a couple tries to ensure consistency.
Remember how I didn't like the movie? I loathed the book. Here’s my Goodreads review.
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
My rating: 1 of 5 stars
Oh where to begin?
This book is an absolute train wreck. The author is completely self-centered to the point of being sickening. She pats herself on the back constantly, even when relaying a negative choice (she's great at being the victim).
The book was also in great need of an editor as the author contradicts herself constantly. Here's just one example from my notes while reading:
"“My plane lands in Mumbai around 1:30 AM. It is December 30. I find my luggage, then find the taxi that will take me hours and hours out of the city”
-2 paragraphs later-
“We pull up to the front gate of the Ashram at 3:30 AM”
So by hours and hours you meant 2 hours…and that included getting luggage, going through customs, & finding a taxi, so…an hour of actual driving, max? *sigh*"
I wish this were an isolated incidence, but alas, it is not.
Additionally, it becomes increasingly obvious (especially in part 2 "pray") that the author is not fond of Christianity, especially Catholicism. Both are typically mentioned with derision, or as the butt of a joke, or with a quote from a well-known saint taken wildly out of context. I'm not asking her to sign up for Christianity but to simply show these religions the same respect she is demanding we show her spiritual journey.
It is terribly frustrating to read and furthers my opinion that is is not only entitled and egotistical but she either does not research at all and quotes things without thought or she's a delusional liar. Either seem equally probable to me.
View all my reviews
For even more, click into my review and read my progress notes for a play by play of the inconsistencies, mockery of Christianity, and flat out lies.
The only good thing to come out of reading this book was the push I needed to start research and make Neapolitan pizza (even though even her description “it was like eating naan” was inane).
Neapolitan pizza is a simple pizza, made with a fine Italian flour, topped with crushed tomatoes and fresh mozzarella and then cooked quickly in a wood burning pizza oven.
The tomatoes and mozzarella were the easiest piece of the puzzle, since those can be acquired locally. The flour had to be ordered from Amazon. The pizza oven was a problem. They make tabletop pizza ovens, but they come with a hefty price tag. I set out researching and found a method, using a cast iron skillet and oven broiler that did a decent job mimicking the pizza oven on a budget!
The one thing I forgot the first time I made the dough was the long proofing time. Ideally, this dough proofs in the refrigerator for 1-2 days before baking. The first time I made this, it got about 5 hours (the second time was a full 48 hours). The discerning customer might notice a slight texture difference (the dough that proofed longer was softer). The flavors may also develop more with a longer proof but it wasn’t hugely noticeable to us.
Overall, this was a huge hit. And my family couldn’t help but tell me that there was “more Italy than necessary” screen shot below, but definitely click through and read the whole tweet, it’s hilarious!
This recipe calls for specialized flour and tomatoes. I’m usually a “store brand & sale” shopper but in this case I decided to spring for the real deal and it was worth the extra cost.
Recipe adapted slightly from Serious Eats
4 cups Italian tipo “00” flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
1 teaspoon yeast
1 ½ cups warm water (about 110 degrees F)
1 (14 ounce) can fire roasted crushed Italian tomatoes
12 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced
2-3 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
Place all the dry dough ingredients in the bowl of a stand mixer and whisk to mix. Add the water and mix with the dough hook until all the flour is absorbed, it will be a stiff dough (it may be very slightly tacky but not sticky). Turn the mixer off and rest for 10 minutes. Turn the mixer back on and knead with the dough hook for another 10 minutes.
Grease a bowl with nonstick spray. Place the dough in the bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 8-48 hours.
Divide the dough into 6 equal pieces and form into balls. Lightly flour a baking sheet and place the dough balls onto it and cover with plastic wrap. Set aside to come to room temperature for 2 hours or until soft and puffy (after 1.5 hours mine were still cold and stiff, so I put them in my oven in “proof bread” mode for 30 minutes and they were much more pliable).
Gently stretch each dough ball by hand until the diameter is the same size as a cast iron skillet (mine was 9-inches)
Heat the skillet over medium-high heat and preheat the broiler with the oven rack placed in the top third of the oven.
Place the well-floured dough round into the hot skillet. Quickly top with crushed tomatoes and mozzarella. Add a drizzle of oil if desired. Immediately move into the oven under the broiler. Broil for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is melted and the crust is beginning to char. As the broiler continues to heat, it may be necessary to shift to “low” broil or lower the oven rack to keep the pizza from browning too quickly.
Remove from pan, garnish with basil and serve.