Jim has been working on many things lately, he always has a new project up his sleeve. I admire him for that, for his constant child-like amazement that leads him wide-eyed and smiling into the woods behind our house to ask me, “what type of log is this, would it be good for burning–yes, I was a wildlife and fisheries biology major–echem–?” or…watching the smile on his face as he takes all day to get his smoker ready for the 25 lb pork shoulder that I must say, he even more carefully hand picked from a purveyor that is sure to feed the pigs what they should be eating, allowing them to roam, allowing them to live. Jim does his research. Sometimes I poke fun, maybe because I wish I could be so focused, maybe because it’s fun to kick a kickball around a schoolyard.
Jim’s biggest project of late has been his home-made pizza oven. I can’t really explain the details because so many of them have been lost as I’m scratching my head wondering, “is the dome really better than the flat part”? Tonight I realized a big mistake…I haven’t paid enough attention. This oven, this thing thing that he has been toiling over (it’s for home use…not work), has consumed him and rightly so. He’s visited pizza places all over New York, talked his brother-in-law Alex’s ear off (former restaurant owner with a passion for pizza) and has traveled to a few interesting shops in Massachusetts, even Florida (and of course, a month in Italy). He has notes scribbled with things like “100g type A, 3g type B maybe?”, stones, wood…he has become a mad scientist for pizza. It started in our home oven with a really cool stone, then these crazy fire bricks that he told me about, and soon enough…every man ventures out to the yard. He tells me that there is something about the perfect char. He takes me to places near and far. We have a babysitter for one night, I dress up, we have pizza. I have a day off, with baby, we have pizza. “Can’t you tell this is Neapolitan?! “…these things resonate and enter my dreams.
Tonight Jim called me outside and it was pretty simple. After about 6 months of testing both in our home oven and now in his outdoor man-cave of a pizza oven, he has just about completed his mission. Granted, the dome isn’t quite ready and the “chimney”, much to my amazement, should be taller. Our house smells like wood-fire-camping-oven…okay, I secretly love it, and there have been a few admittedly funny evenings where we have tailgated in our own backyard with a fantastic bourbon and the smoke of the “pizza project”. Zac Brown, you have nothing on us. I stood there tonight, staring blankly at Jim as he fed his fire with wood from our backyard (yes, I eventually identified all of it) and thought “wow”.
His projects are nothing short of amazing, I am continuously reminded of that. I went inside the house shortly after and I started doing some mundane work. Jim said that his residual fire had enough flame in it “to roast anything”. He asked me what I wanted. I casually yelled from inside, “whatever”. Five minutes later, he had made roasted broccoli with melted fontina and parmesan. My favorite. Sometimes we all forget the how the where the when the who the way. Take time to think about what could possibly inspire You. Maybe that’s why things work sometimes…I’m writing about the fire and he’s tending to it.