Monday, August 4, 2008

A Noxious Notion - Gourmet Pizza

When is "enough" enough? Of all the stupid ideas that could enter the mind of a cook ... to describe pizza as "gourmet" .... seems to me to indicate more about the audience than the kitchen.

Now I love pizza, at the right time and in the right environment. There's nothing quite so satisfying as chomping into a tasty, tomato-dripping pizza when the call is for casual dining - particularly a fresco. The different crusts are all suited to different toppings (and accompanying drinks!), and it's an excellent way to feed a ravenous crowd.

And readers of my other blog, Eating Out in Tokyo, will know that I adore gourmet food. Well-crafted, thoughtfully designed to stimulate the tongue and taste buds in a particular order, delicate flavours that wash and wave, stunning presentation that delights the other senses as well. Perhaps I'm over-doing it, but a gourmet meal uses the finest ingredients to create surprise and sensuality.

But pizza and gourmet? Finest ingredients? Delicate? I don't think so. Good pizza, combining materials that move together and that freshen up the mood and the palate, is one thing. Gourmet? That's like saying those dinky little hamburgers that are peppering menus all around the world are full of flavour and frisson. Piffle!

Pizza can be home-made, country-style, deep-dish, layered, almost anything - but gourmet? Please!

Another jaw-snapping thing: The "restaurant" at the Wesley Hospital in Brisbane has the amusing name of "Gown and Glove". Heavens spare us. Nothing could be more finely designed to be repulsive and sickening than this sobriquet in a hospital. How could you eat without conjuring up all sorts of horrid images? In an almost Sweeney Todd twist, I'm now scarred for life by the very thought of this!