Saturday, 24 March 2012

Jeshwald pizza

June sighed.  She looked at the counter-top: everything she needed to make a pizza was laid out in a neat arrangement, her mise-en-place was perfect.  But it was boring.  She hardly ever made pizza these days, because of the new edicts from the council.  To preserve authenticity, people were only allowed to make pizza with three hundred grams of cheese, distributed so that one quarter of the pizza was barely cheesy at all; two hundred grams of pre-cooked ground beef, and eight three-inch red chili peppers.  Anything else was a prosecutable offence, and even the girls at the supermarket were tasked with checking your ingredients and raising an alarm if they saw that you might have pizza making capabilities that put some other topping on.
"Authentic Jeshwald pizza!" was part of the council's tourism marketing strategy.  They'd obtained a protected status for the pizza, banning anyone else from making that exact pizza, and they sent out mystery shoppers to make sure that the ban was having an effect.  June had even been a mystery shopper for them when it had all started, excited and enthused that Jeshwald now had something definitively its own.  She gave it up after three weeks though, feeling bloated and tired from eating three pizzas a day.
Did she want to risk it?  Should she slip a couple of slices of pepperoni onto the pizza as well as the ground beef? Or even risk more by replacing the ground beef completely with pepperoni, and make a different pizza altogether.  A non-Jeshwald pizza.
She'd just convinced herself that she could do this, that she could be radical for once, break out on her own and make a non-Jeshwald pizza, when someone knocked at the front door.  She started, feeling herself flush, and realised that not being authentic with her pizza had bothered her more than she'd realised.  She scanned the counter, checking that she'd not actually got any pepperoni out, that there was nothing to give away that she'd considered being inauthentic.  Then she hurried to the door, aware that if she took too long it would look suspicious as well.
"June!"  June's heart sank, it was her neighboor Maureen.  Maureen had started the mystery shopper at the same time as June and had really got into it, checking out up to six restaurants a day now.  She had gained weight, naturally enough, and seemed to revel in it.  Her calves had merged into her ankles, and all her clothes had been replaced by muu-muus, which June tried hard not to think of as marquee tents.
"Maureen!  Come in, I was just making pizza," she said.  "Perhaps you'd like to stay and have some?  You could tell me how authentically I make them."
"Oh well," said Maureen, her little eyes lighting up.  "You know how I like a small slice of pizza!  Is it cooking already?"  She sniffed the air as she waddled through the front door, her dress rubbing against the door-frame.
"Oh no, I was just getting started," said June.  "Come in, come in to the kitchen.  How's work?"
"Oh you know," said Maureen easily, though she was already wheezing slightly.  "There's always more to do than you can get round to; I had eight restaurants to check out yesterday, and three of them didn't open for lunch.  And, can you believe it?  Two of them were serving Jeshwald pizza!  I've never had to call out the boys twice in one night before!"
"Were they calling it Jeshwald pizza?" asked June, picking up the rolling pin and eyeing up the pizza dough.
"Oh no, they never do," said Maureen.  Her eyes gleamed again.  "But you can tell from the ingredients list and the way they hide it at the bottom of the menu.  What are you doing?"
June paused, her rolling pin pressed into the dough.
"Rolling out the pizza dough," she said.
"Not like that!  Authentic Jeshwald pizza is rolled with two strokes north, then south, then east, then west, and then repeat."
"...what?"  June was poised to start rolling the dough away from her.
"North, South, East then West.  You're not facing north, dear.  You need to find out what way north is, and then you can start."
"When did we define how you roll the dough out?" asked June, wondering if she actually had a compass anywhere in the house.  It didn't seem like the kind of thing anyone but a keen hiker might own.
"A month ago," said Maureen.  "I'm on the standards council now, and we meet monthly to keep the standard up to date."
"Monthly updates?"  June stared helplessly at her mise-en-place, her reluctant enthusiasm for making Jeshwald pizza at a new ebb.
"Fortnightly soon," said Maureen.  "They're all published online you know, at the Jeshwald pizza standards page."
"Really?" said June, feeling weak.
"Oh yes, and as of next month it'll be mandatory for all residents of Jeshwald to make a Jeshwald pizza once a week.  We're considering renaming Wednesday to Pizzaday, which is both easier to say and spell."
"Oh," said June.  "Oh dear.  Have I told you that I'm thinking of moving house?"

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