From the files of “No Shit”: Food is a key ingredient in most celebrations. Therefore, food-centered holidays are great, even when they’re total BS like National Donut Day or whatever.
But 3/14, every year now, is Pi(e) Day! Which actually makes sense, sort of, because first of all, math. Second, it’s March 14th. And also, pie! Birthdays have cake, Halloween has candy, Pi(e) Day has pie, all wrapped up in a neat little semi-logical package.
What really chafes my nuts — even more than store-bought crust (if I find out any of you used a store-bought crust to make this recipe I’m calling the police) — is how many of you yokels try and pass off a “pizza pie” as an appropriate pie for Pie Day.
Pizza is not pie. It’s fucking pizza. They’re different. Pie is dessert. Pizza is…pizza. I can’t believe I have to explain this to you fucks. One minute I’m thumbing through Instagram, thrilled beyond words, looking at meticulously styled lattice-top blackberry pies, and the next minute I’m reconsidering everything I ever knew about you, because you tried to pass off pizza as a pie and now I hate you.
But hold on — this is supposed to be a music column, right?
My friend and yours, the punkest babe alive, Colin Atrophy Hagendorf, a/k/a the Slice Harvester, just premiered a series for the recently launched Taste Talks called PIZZA PALS. That’s right — the human who ate a plain slice at every pizzeria in Manhattan (and wrote a zine, then a book, about the experience) now has a Web series where he interviews female and non-male musicians about music and pizza while eating pizza at his favorite pizzeria, New York Pizza Suprema. These are some of the best musicians around. Total game-changers. Except for that first episode — what a dud — which, naturally, spotlights yours truly.
Now that you know I’m an expert — or at least endorsed by one — I’ll continue.
Pizza holds a special place in the heart of every punk, from pop-a-wheelie pop punk buzzkills to dumpster crusts to the vegan reich and beyond. There are punks who make pizza and (OK, debatably) punks who make records about pizza and then package them in pizza boxes. Lyrically, pizza might be the most mentioned food in the history of punk (but only because booze ain’t food).
Seeing this clear correlation, one must ask: why?
“Most punks are full of rage and angst. Skating, being with friends, eating pizza together — it’s all a big part of the punk culture and being a youth. You were broke in high school. You might not have had a job and probably blew all your lunch money on drugs or gave it to older kids to buy you beer. There’s power in numbers, and when you didn’t have a job, you split pizza with your friends. $5 can only get you so far on your junk food game, but five friends throwing down $5 each? That’s a whole lot of pizza.”
Powerful. Emotional. I like it! Let’s go with it.
Other possible answers: If you grew up in NYC, pizza was a dollar a slice, so fuck having friends anyway. It’s easier to tattoo across the knuckles of one hand than PHILLY CHEESESTEAK. It’s quicker to write on a wall than QUINOA SALAD. If you fall asleep with a slice next to your bed, you can pick it up and start eating when you wake up without much fear of botulism, which is great for squats without refrigerators (or community shared refrigerators, where your vegan housemates have license to walk your gallon of milk over to the apartment next door — yes, I have actually seen this happen). Like punk, the true origins of pizza are a mystery. It’s as prolific as punk, popping up in every major city and small town all over the world. Just like punk, even when it’s bad, you’ll still put up with it because you love its very it-ness, the fact that it exists at all.
So sayeth, as it turns out, the Slice Harvester, the definitive expert on NYC pizza if ever there was one:
My inclination is to say something deliberately controversial about how punk came from NYC and so New York street food is inevitably linked to the now-national punk culture, but that seems unnecessarily childish.
So I asked my girlfriend, who is a brilliant scholar, what she thought, and she mentioned two things: 1. Pizza spread nationally as a food through drive-in movie theaters in the ’50s and ’60s, so it’s linked in our cultural consciousness to an adolescent sense of burgeoning independence. Punk as a subculture (rather than punk as COUNTERculture, which is different) highly values youth and is about creating a state of protracted adolescence, trying to maintain that juvenile sense of independence. Look at the facile anti-authoritarianism of Sum 41 or the newest Rancid record. It’s a politic that isn’t directed at anything tangible and doesn’t propose solutions, that essentially, when you distill it, comes down to a refrain of “NO PARENTS.” In fact, there was a fairly prolific vandal in North Brooklyn about ten years ago whose tag was a slice of pizza with the words NO PARENTS written above it.
2. Pizza by the pie, as opposed to pizza by the slice, is an inherently communal food. It’s made for sharing; it brings to mind times of celebration, specifically birthday parties. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that I wrote a zine when I was 20 called Every Day Is My Birthday, or that the same phrase is the first line of the Hickey song “40 oz Of Bad Karma.” Again, it’s about fostering an atmosphere of constant partying. Punk may have its roots in the city, but it came to prominence in the suburbs, and pizza also evokes a sense of [urbanness] that inscribes authenticity onto otherwise banal suburban rebellion.
In short: Pizza is delicious, everyone loves pizza, even punks who hate everything.
But all the philosophy in the world can’t turn a regular pizza into a fucking pie. You’d have to make a sort of…pizza…pie…for that. A true antiestablishment gesture if I’ve ever seen one. Bucking the conventions of pizza wisdom, shunning those who came before you, a bold move and one that could go badly, sloppily. You can’t serve it with ice cream — is it even pie?
Oh yes. It is pie. And to accompany, a playlist about pizza. Happy Slightly Belated Pie Day, you ungrateful heathens. Eat this disgusting mess in memory of me while listening to this Pizza Playlist.
(Respect due to the nation of BuzzFeed for the ricotta egg filling)
Ingredients (Makes Two Pies):
For the crust:
3.5-4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
2.25 tsp/one packet active dry yeast
2 tsp salt
1.5c warm water (like bathtub warm, not super hot)
2 tbsp olive oil (plus a little more)
For the filling:
Shredded mozzarella cheese
Whatever assorted pizza toppings your weird little heart desires
In a small bowl, sprinkle sugar and yeast on top of the 1.5c warm water (if you’ve got a food thermometer, check to make sure the water is around 110 degrees — any warmer and it could kill your yeast). Leave for ten minutes or so until the yeast gets foamy (“proofs” — or proves it’s alive and working). If your yeast doesn’t get all bubbly, throw it out and start over.
In a big bowl, or the bowl of a stand mixer, mix your yeast mixture with 3.5c flour, salt, and 2tbsp olive oil. Stir until the dough forms a soft ball (if the ball isn’t forming, add more flour tbsp by tbsp).
Transfer the dough ball to another bowl greased with a little more olive oil. Cover the bowl and let rise until doubled in size (about an hour and a half). When the dough is risen, punch it down gently, turn out onto a floured counter, split into two balls and let rise covered with plastic wrap for another ten minutes.
Roll out each ball into a 14–15” circle. Drape each one over a 9” pie pan. Fold the edges of the crust back over the rim so no dough is hanging off the edge all weird and pinch to seal, so the outermost crust gets puffy like a regular pizza (you can actually roll cheese into the crust to make a stuffed-crust pie, sooooo crazy).
Brush the formed crusts with egg and bake at 425 for 10 minutes — pre-baking the crust a little bit will prevent it from getting super soggy once you fill it with all manner of liquid shit.
While the crusts are pre-baking: In a medium bowl, whisk four eggs and 2 cups of ricotta into a smooth filling.
When the crusts are partially baked, split the ricotta filling between the two pies. Top each with a cup of marinara sauce, then a cup and a half of shredded cheese, then all the weird toppings you want.
Bake at 425 for 25 minutes, then let cool for at least 10 minutes before cutting and serving. It’s going to collapse and fall apart, but think of it this way: A good, warm cherry pie would do the same thing. If you aren’t grossed out by squishy fruit, don’t get grossed out by squishy soft cheese and pepperoni grease.