Family tradition usually starts over a full table at my parents’ house. One thing’s for sure – my parents can cook! Whether it’s holidays, birthday celebrations or just a normal weekend, you can usually find us reconvening around a table with quite the spread of food, and usually a pizza or two.
If you ask my family what our favorite food is, we would probably respond with, “Pizza and mussels.” My father started making his own pizza 40 years ago. When I asked him what made him want to start making pizza he said, “I love pizza. Didn’t need a reason.” Valid.
When I asked him why he started making his signature hot mussels, he told me about an unfortunate incident of food poisoning, twice, when he had eaten mussels at a restaurant. Now, my Dad’s pizza and mussels have become a traditional meal in our family. Often imitated in our own homes, but never as good as the original!
Our pizza gatherings always seem to start with a large pot of hot mussels served with crusty, Italian bread. The mussels start with olive oil, crushed red pepper and garlic heated in a large pot. Crushed tomatoes are added. In another saucepan, fresh mussels that have been thoroughly cleaned are cooked along with a decent splash of white wine. They’ll steam in the wine, open up and get nice and plump. Then you can spoon them into the sauce pot and serve! Make sure to keep some of that sauce on your plate to dip your pizza!
Over the years, Dad has made his pizza many different ways. He’s made his own dough, tried a variety of store bought dough and managed to figure out how to make a grilled pizza. The dough has to rise before stretching it on a floured surface.
Then the dough is drizzled and brushed with olive oil while the grill is prepared. Dad uses a grill rack my husband custom built for him, which allows the flames to get underneath the crust without burning it. Cook the dough on one side, just until you get grill marks, then flip.
Add crushed tomato sauce, but work quickly so you don’t burn the underside of the crust. Then, sprinkle a nice layer of mozzarella cheese on top. I also like to add fresh basil from the garden when I make grilled pizza at home. When it’s done on the grill, pizza doesn’t need to be loaded with toppings!
At any given moment in time, there is always a pizza dough ready to be made at my parents’ house. My Dad was even making pizzas at our backyard wedding reception! He’s passed his pizza making secrets onto us so we can enjoy homemade pizza in our own homes.
Pizza has become a big part of our family tradition and tradition is so important. It reminds us of memories, gatherings and happy times together. It gives us something to hold onto and, in this case, it tastes so good! Recreating these meals in our own homes not only makes our parents proud, but it carries on our family’s pizza making tradition. This simple meal will always be so special to our family. Thank you to Patience Brewster, a family owned and operated gift and Christmas ornaments company, for providing the topic of family food traditions for this post.
I’ve told you a little about my Dad’s pizza making secrets, but like he always says, you don’t want to give away too much! But I do hope, like my parents’ cooking, I’ve made you hungry for more! For more about my family’s food traditions, check out my post about my grandmother’s cooking.