One of our many rituals is Friday Pizza Night. It’s a signal; the end of the working week is here. An end to weekday patterns of snatched lunches or mismatched family meals. Everyone likes pizza: sitting round; a big knife; chopping big wedges unevenly, roughly, indecorously. From time to time, when time allows, we make fresh bases. Strong white flour, sieved and dusty, a fine veil drifts down by the morning. Greeny-yellow olive oil; flakes of Maldon salt and the magical yeast. To mix, we grab everything together in a claw, like a digger’s grab, pinching and squeezing, mud-flat mix oozing between fingers and thumbs. Not all of us love the kneading but I do and Em does too. Giving it some, elbows out, top teeth gently pressing into bottom lip as she pushes and folds and shoves and pulls.
Em had a pizza party for her birthday. We made five times the normal amount and let it rise on top of the stove; a wet RNLI tea towel that’s seen better days, damp and laid across the oiled glass bowls. One hour. Two. Then a little pummel, divide and rise again. Down the cellar we left them, on metal baking sheets, loosely draped with cling-film, ten little bouncing cobs, creamy white, dusted with flour and the iridescent sheen of olive oil.
Godisgood. That’s what the ale-wives called the wild yeasts they couldn’t see, assuming it was the hand of God. Godisgood: out of little comes plenty. Godisgood: the invisible hand of a benign force, watching over us, keeping us, feeding us.
Next day: we lifted the latch on the angled cellar door and trod down the uneven stone steps. How do you describe the smell of Godisgood? A brewery and fresh brewed beer, of course. But more than that: waxy lemon peals, unpasteurised cream and even, strangely attractive, a coat of fresh emulsion. Now: no longer the Midlands cobs, but Lancashire oven-bottom muffins, flat and round, a hand wide and a thumb deep, pock marked by escaping gas, billowed out, nudging their neighbours. We broke them apart, the kids flattening them with outstretched fingers; some flipped them, some threw and spun them. Atopped by smears of pressed tomatoes, runny mozzarella, spicy pepperoni – all manner of treats. The best pizzas ever? Of course: Godisgood.