Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Every Wednesday, Unclutterer features a column where they good-naturedly poke fun at unitaskers, or unnecessary items that have only one use. In a recent post, they show a portable wood-fire oven from Williams-Sonoma, for baking pizza. While the $2000 price tag seems a bit hefty for what is basically an inverted terracotta dome on wheels, the Italian in me can't help but appreciate the effort behind it.

An uncle of mine had a wood burning oven made of brick built into his basement kitchen. His wife uses it for baking as well as making bean dishes. I recall once exploring the ruins of Pompeii with my husband, and being stopped dead in my tracks by the remains of a large outdoor brick oven. The mother of another uncle of mine had a virtually identical one built in the courtyard of her villa. It hit me in that moment that Faulkner was right: the past isn't dead, it isn't even past, and it bakes yummy bread and pizza.

I am far too lazy to ever consider something as labor intensive as a wood-fire oven, even one on as modest a scale as the Williams-Sonoma device. Nevertheless, there is wonderful kind of culinary alchemy that takes place when fire is applied to dough. The result is as nourishing to the soul as to the body.

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