Posts Tagged ‘world pizza championships’

Champion Pizza Acrobats of the U.S.A.

During the 2010 World Pizza Championships in Salsomaggiore Terme, Italy, our team had four fabulous pizza acrobats  selected to compete against the world.

The story of our 2010 acrobats started a long way from my small town of Athens, Ohio. Where, you ask? The acrobatic drama started on the mean streets of Naples. Several other team members went down to check out real Neapolitan pizza from some of the oldest pizzerias in Italy. Unfortunately, some of these pizzeria are located in less than desirable neighborhoods. As these guys were leaving one pizzeria, they looked down at several bums, heads down, sitting with their feet in the gutter, shoving slices of pizza in their mouths and said, “Man, this town really needs to be cleaned up, look at those bums.”

Just then the bums looked up and were recognized as our acrobatic team! When asked about the rumors of rampant crime in the city, they said “No one’s bothered us.”

Two of these acrobats surely didn’t end up in the gutter. They reached the finals and beyond; Jamie Culliston and Eric Corbin, Both from Gramaldi’s Pizzeria in Tuscon.

This is what they did in the finals. First we will watch Eric Corbin (Do try this at home kids.)

Now for Jamie Culliston:

These guys are true pizza men who are proud to work day to day with pizza. Many thanks to Grimaldi’s for getting them to Italy. Here are the interviews with these guys at the award ceremony.

Here is Jamie.

Many thanks to all my team mates on the World Pizza Champions. If you think you’ve got what it takes to be on the World Pizza Champions acrobatic team just try out during the World Pizza Games held the largest and best pizza convention in the world, The International Pizza Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada.

Giuseppe, the Mystery Greens and the Pope

While I was in Positano, Italy back in April, the master of the house, Giuseppe, invited me into the kitchen to show me what he had just brought in. With my luck, I was expecting a small goat or lamb that needed killing. No such luck. It was a bunch of green stalks with buds and yellow flowers.

“Looks like weeds.” I said to him, which was like saying it to myself because he barely understand English.

My trusty translater Bruno di Fabio was gone (probably buying dinner for his judges at  the World Pizza Championships to give him a high score) so I had to muddle through my total ingnorance of Italian. Giuseppe sat down and pulled the leaves off on some newspapers while I watched.

“So…(I always start off all my Italian communication this way) what is that?”  ” Quanto?”

“Maybe rocket, eh? But not,” he said, and looked down.

He shoved a stem in my face and I bravely bit off the end-stalk: flower, buds, leaves and all. I looked at the empathetic scrunch his face made as I was greeted by a bodacious bitterness not unlike the poke of “Poke salad Annie-gator got yer granny…” fame.

“No,” Giuseppe said, taking a leaf and putting it into his mouth. I was the good little monkey and did the same. Wow. The leaf was arugula-like in its pepperiness but not as bitter.


“No, maybe …ehhh… broccoletti?” By this time, my fine companions were calling me at the top of the cliff  at the beginning of the driveway.

“Broccoli? I don’t think so,” I thought. “Well, I’ve gotta go,” I said,  looking down at Giuseppe. This time I saw a picture of the Pope on the page under the stems.

“Il Popo.” I said as I pointed.

“Si.” Giuseppe nodded and pushed aside the greens so the pope could peer out at us.

I never did find out how Giuseppe prepared these mystery greens. We had to leave for the north that day. As we drove those winding roads again, I said goodbye to Positano, Giuseppe, Gilda the Amalfi coast and the Pope.

How could you even want to leave a place like Positano or as great a bed and breakfast as “Holiday House Gilda?”

When I got back home to Athens, Ohio, I saw these pictures and was determined to find out what this was. I finally gave up but then got out Stalking the Wild Asparagus by Euell Gibbons, which helped me forage for my previous blog entry, “Wild and Local Springtime Pizza.” On page 226, there it was . Wintercress.

Euell articulated how as he sees the first sign of spring outside Philidelphia when the Italians walking along the roadside to gather wintercress.

“BINGO!” I screamed, throwing the book down and scaring my family half to death. “Wintercress, Upland Cress, Yellow Rocket, Scurvy Grass, Belle Isle Cress, Wild Broccoli. Holy Cr… er crud, Giuseppe was right!”

So wintercress it is. Next year, in March I have committed to make an Avalanche pizza with wintercress on it. Thanks Giuseppe. Oh, and thanks, Mr. Pope.