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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Pizza Lesson

Tuesday was a great adventure....

The story started last year. We have not met Elaine and Terence yet. We must. They are my favourite people, apart from the rest of you. I wrote a book with Terence. Terence wrote all of it. I was more the ideas person. One very small idea. An idea that he never used in the book. Still, he gave me a mention in the foreword, and I think that increased the sales. I bought it!
Elaine. A wonderful, compassionate, erudite woman. Somewhat attached to Terence. We first met in Bhutan many years ago. I liked them instantly. The instant they gave me the pack of fresh coffee. Then I got to know them, and the friendship blossomed.
Last year they made another visit. They stayed at a nice hotel, across the river from Thimphu. After tasting one of my pizzas, they informed the hotel's owner that I made great pizzas. Thus the owner took my number and said I had to come around and rattle up a pizza for him. I was rather worried about this. The pizza I had cooked for E and T was the first one I had ever made.
Luckily, that phone call never came.
Last Saturday, my phone rang. A man. A man wanting me to show him and his chefs how to make pizza. A shock for Mark. "Yes, yes," I said. "How about Tuesday morning? Fine. See you then." The phone went down. You don't put mobile phones down, do you?
In the grasp of shock, I had failed to remember who was speaking to me and where he was. Not looking good. Thimphu is a fairly big city, with lots of hotels.
I did have the phone number though. First I assumed it was something to do with E and T. But I had my doubts. Intuition. Female intuition. I got that from my father.

On Monday, I visited my old school to catch up with Bishnu. Bishnu told me that he had just given my number to Dasho Lhendup, the owner of Hotel 89. Ah! The penny dropped. They use ngultrum here. So, about 74.7 ngultrum dropped.
... May I have a time warp in my blog?
No. Well you can't stop me....
Dasho (an honorific rather like Sir) picked me up in the morning, and I was welcomed to 89 with a lovely cup of coffee. The chefs were all ready for me. With sharp knives. A lovely clean kitchen. They even had an apron for me. No hat though. The oven was smaller than the one I have at home, but it worked fine. I demonstrated how I made my dough, using the method in Richard Bertinet's books. The chef took over, and did a much better job than me. The dough is similar to their Naan dough.

Then I produced some dough that I had made earlier. We split it into four pieces and each made our own toppings. Mine was boring. Simple. Enlightened? Thinley was more adventurous. The Bhutanese ingredient. About five chilies, chopped, seeds and all. I reminded myself to steer clear of that during the tasting. The chefs were brilliant. Onions and garlic stir fried. There was much discussion about the possibilities. They laughed when ham and pineapple was suggested by the white man.
Dasho had disappeared. When he returned he had a bag of home made sausages. I thought he was going to put these on his pizza, but he gave them to me. He had been shown how to make these by an Italian man. The smell was a real treat. Please, Dasho, don't ever show the Italian how I make pizza.
Guess what I had for dinner tonight.
Sausage pizza would be a good guess.
A wrong guess though.

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