When I was little, I really wanted to be a detective when I grew up.
At various points I also wanted to be a writer, a ballerina, an actress and an a professional tennis player but being a detective was the one thing that I really wanted.
It was probably a result of a literary diet as a child that started with Enid Blyton’s mystery books and was fed with copious amounts of Nancy Drew in my formative years. I wanted nothing more than to stumble across a gang stealing thoroughbred horses and foil their dastardly plot or prevent the kidnap of the heir to an obscure European throne. I would scan the newspapers for mysteries that I could crack and would collect cuttings about major bank robberies in case there was a clue somewhere that everyone else had missed.
(It occurred to me while I was thinking about this post that my job now is not unlike what I had hoped for as a child. I’d never really thought about it like that but it was rather gratifying to know that, however far removed all these reports and spreadsheets can seem, fundamentally, I’m doing what I’ve wanted to do for a very long time.)
I can’t have been the only child who had a similar ambition – I know this because I actually had several picture books about how to be a detective. I read these books religiously. I set up an office in my bedroom based on the advice in the books with folders for each ‘case’ I was working on. I would practice following people in the street or spying on my parents as they were eating dinner and I would jot down what I saw in my precious detective’s notebook.
One thing that all of the books stressed was the importance of a detective’s powers of observation and memory. And because I really wanted to be a detective, I told myself that I had excellent powers of observation and memory (even if this wasn’t really the case).
The truth is that most of life passes me by somewhat. I often don’t notice when people have had a haircut. I will ask my mother if she’s wearing a new pair of glasses and she will sigh and tell me that she’s had them for a year now. I couldn’t tell you what tie my boyfriend was wearing today even though I sat opposite him on the tube for twenty minutes. I watch films and read books and, within a couple of hours, I can’t remember any of the salient details. So many pictures and conversations and people flash in front of my eyes and most don’t even register any more.
When something does stick though, when it doesn’t get lost in the overwhelming mess and confusion of every day life, I know it’s for a reason. Such was the case with this chocolate, ricotta and honey pizza. There was an article in the February edition of Martha Stewart Living about Table on Ten, a pizza restaurant in Bloomville, New York. The article included a recipe for a potato, onion and goat’s cheese pizza which sounded pretty incredible but what really caught my eye was the small picture in the corner of the page that claimed to be a chocolate, ricotta and honey pizza. As soon as I saw those words, I was sold.
It didn’t take me long to get into the kitchen and whip up a batch of pizza dough (mine was whole grain spelt pizza dough but you can use whatever you like). There was no recipe in the magazine so I just made it up as I went a long – a generous layer of fresh ricotta, a drizzle of honey, a blanket of dark chocolate and, finally, a sprinkle of sea salt. I baked the pizza in a hot oven for 20 minutes or so until the crust was crisp but with slight softness that paired will with the stickiness of the toppings.
There’s no real recipe – it’s an idea more than anything – but I hope it’s one that will stick with you.