Flour notes

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The market has three missions.

(1) To provide nutritious food to the public.

(2) To make a profit so as to be able to fulfill the primary mission of serving the public.

(3) To be transparent in the realms of Kashrus, hygiene, and finance.

The rationale behind the transparency is to create a new kind of standard for a local food establishment. This means that some of the things that will be revealed on this website may make some customers and potential customers uncomfortable.

That will not stop us from talking about these details of the food production. However in the interest of not unduly disturbing anyone we issue the following advice:

Please stop reading here if you’d rather not know what goes on behind the scenes at the market.

At the intersection of of hygiene and Kashrus is the issue of bugs. At the market, we sift the flour to check for bugs. If we find the ocassional bug, we will discard it and use the rest of the flour from the bag. If there seems to be a severe infestation, we discard the flour from that bag. We also automatically discard bags that show obvious signs of infestation, such as trails or webbing.

Some customers, I have found, find this policy repugnant, which is why I am being upfront here about it for any who do not want to eat anything that once had a bug traipse through it.

I would merely point out, however, that based on my research, just about all flour is subject to infestation. If you’ve never found a bug in your flour, it may because it was removed at the field, mill, or store using a chemical or mechanical means to remove it.

My using a mechanical means to remove bugs is not conceptually different than the way commercial facilities remove bugs. Some of the flour I buy is locally produced at farms that use minimal pesticides and is milled at places that do not necessarily have the means to do the kind of fine sifting and checking that larger facilities do, and that I do.

This may all seem disgusting. And may drive away potential customers. But after working in the food industry and witnessing what goes on behind the scenes sometimes, I made up my mind I would hide NOTHING from my customers if I ever merited to have my own company.

This approach falls within the teaching of don’t do to others what you find hateful to yourself. And I strongly dislike being sold food from a company that hides its standards from the public.

Pizza in the Torah

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These are just some thoughts of mine.

The Navi tells us that an angel delivered a pizza to Eliyahu (I Kings 19:6). The term used to describe what I would call “pizza” is Ugas Retzaphim, which might translate as pavement cake. Artscroll translates it as “coal-baked cake,” that is, it seems to me, a flour based food baked directly on dying coals, or on a stone heated by coals that have then been moved to one side of the stone. It can possibly also mean baked on the wall, as with a Tanur oven. This is essentially how Neopolitan pizza is made: it is baked on a hot stone next to an intense source of heat.

Similarly, Mishna Baba Kama, Chap. 2, Mishna 3 mentions a Charara, which the Rav Ovadiah from Bartenura translates as a cake baked “on” coals. The term “on” can mean “on top of”, but it can also be translated as “beside” or “above.” The case there in the Mishna refers to a coal stuck to the cake, presumably because the cake was in direct contact with the coal from being on top of it, or right beside it.

Mishna Shabbos, Chap. 1, Mishna 10 mentions Charara Al Gabei Gechalim (Charara on top of coals), and there the Rav Ovadiah from Bartenura translates Charara as pavement cakes. In fact, his explanation in that section makes it evident that the Charara is baking on the earthenware surface of the oven, not directly in contact with the coals despite the Mishna saying on top of.

According to the Jastrow Dictionary גבי can mean “towards”. This seems to fit in well — almost too well — with the way I’d like to understand על גבי גחלים. Thus, the cake was baked on (besides) the coals. This would make eminent sense.

The floor of the oven is first heated with coals. Then the coals are raked to one side. Then the cake is placed on the floor, which bakes from below. Meanwhile the cake is in proximity to the coals which bake the exposed side and top surfaces from above.

As mentioned, this interpretation is the only way the Rav from Bartenura’s commentary seems to make sense: otherwise how can the cake be said to be in contact with the pavement if it’s literally resting on top of the dying coals? Furthermore, how would the top of the cake get done if it’s resting on the dying coals?

The Salad Pizza

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I wanted to sell organic pizza here in Kemp Mill. The project had to be profitable, but that was not all. I wanted it to evoke the kind of off-beat atmosphere found in my hometown of Takoma Park.

The way to do that, I decided, was to sell at a farmers market. Since there is none in Kemp Mill, I had to start one.  The pizzeria would be the core business, the anchor tent of the market.

I needed a benchmark, some way of measuring when I had found a niche in the local pizza scene. I would know when I had jumpstarted the farmers market when salad pizza would be on the menu.

The Salad Pizza recipe:

The dough and sauce are like a regular marinara pizza (cheeseless pizza). The sauce should be laid on thick.

Allow the pizza to cool completely.

Slice iceberg lettuce, tomato, green pepper, onion. The vegetables are not cooked. Cover the pie with veggies until you can’t see the crust, but not too thickly.

Make an italian dressing: oil, vinegar, salt, black pepper, oregano (required), garlic powder (recommended), basil (optional).

Caution: dont make it too tangy with the vinegar or pepper.

Sprinkle the dressing over the pizza to taste.