Walk the halls of Rome’s most sacred museum. You might feel small under the ceiling of the Sistine. Or humbled by craftsmanship it holds. But what you are actually experiencing is NASCAR played out over centuries.
Daring, imaginative and experimental. Icons like Leonardo, Raphael, and Michelangelo show us the extraordinary in the ordinary. They muscle through the curves and mash the petal in the straightaway. Each stroke a gear shift.
It was in this crucible of the Vatican where one artistic idea fed another. A narrative of genius that spanned frescoes, sculptures and canvases. Prompted by the Pope maybe. Or prompted by one-ups-manship. No matter.
Because the end results are more than artifacts. They are history itself.
With this inspiration, we re-wrote what it means to party over dinner. To menu an evening with fine cuisine and close friends.
Today we broke convention. We invite strangers to build relationships through a competition. We unleash the Pizza Invitational. The F1 of dinner parties.
The rules are simple. Pizza dough and oven time are mastered by a single person. Teams are formed at random. Some ingredients ready to go.
In one corner stood the proteins. The salami, the hams, the shrimp, the crab.
Elsewhere soft cheeses like fresh mozzarella, blue cheese or brie sit ready. Hard cheeses and nuts for snap, crackle or pop.
Sliced vegetables, sauteed onions, garlic, honey, dried oregano, figs, olive oil and fresh herbs. Typical gourmet slight of hand.
Everything but tomato sauce. This is a race without bumpers or headlights. Win because you took chances. Not because grandma’s gravy carried the day.
Two pizza attempts for each pit crew.
Some spent too much time tweezering ingredients for balanced distribution. Some sat in committee for a long time. Some raided the pantry for a mystery ingredient.
Each pizza emerges from the oven much different than when it went in. Shrimp now pink and opaque. Cheese now a molten lacquer. Crust bubbles dot the landscape.
Ideas explode. Duck Bahn Mi pizza with pineapple.
Ancho pizza with sausage and sweet potato. Asparagus and crab pizza with lemon buerre blanc.
To the winner goes bragging rights. And yet no one really loses.
There are always full bellies, empty wine glasses and an evening well spent.
This is a formula that can be repeated endlessly.
Next time you want to cook for others, don’t. Bring them to track, show them the vehicle and wave the checkered flag at the end.
What you get might just make your head spin.