Standing with a 16oz box of arugula in hand for $4.99 in front of a window of mozzarella cheeses, an impulsive pizza dinner was decided upon. When I proposed the idea to my friend, a Sicilian girl working for the Italian department here at the college, she replied, “With wine?”
And so I was introduced to burrata, mozzarella balls stuffed with mozzarella bits and cream. Cheese stuffed with cheese. The idea had me curiously drooling, so along with a ball of mozzarella, I bought a bucket of burrata. We checked out and stopped to the Co-Op on the way home, a market similar to Whole Foods but native to the Upper Valley distributing mostly local goods, for some dough and imported proscuitto di Parma, thinly sliced off the leg, bagged, weighed, and stickered. Wine was purchased, and a couple of bottles of it.
I called the guinea pig and explained the situation. He moaned a bit, just having gone through a box of pizza for lunch, and having had a frozen store-bought pizza the day before- of course thawed and cooked in the oven. He agreed in the end, as if doing me a favor. “Or, I can just make you an arugula salad of some sort.” He objected. Pizza for the third time in two days started to sound not too shabby.
The doughs were rolled out, this time with an actual rolling pin- the Sicilian brought her’s over, so we no longer had to cling saran wrap to an empty wine bottle. We lathered them with sauce and put them in the oven and raised our glasses while we waited. One was to become a vegetarian friendly raddichio and acorn squash, although we all hold meat dear to our hearts, and the other would be topped with arugula and proscuitto, after the cheeses promiscuously gave in and deliquesced, and put in the oven just for a minute to warm things through and barely melt the cured fat- keeping the proscuitto crudo and not cotto.
When I was cutting the burrata, the guinea pig stood over my shoulder and said, “Disaster. You can throw it away.” I ignored the comment at the time, but it wasn’t until yesterday when I realized he thought the outpouring of creamy mozzarella bits was an illicit mistake of what a mozzarella should be; stringy and compact and consolidated. The Italian guinea pig too was experiencing burrata for the first time, and well, his first time, I guess you can say was a roofied one- it wasn’t until two days later when he actually understood what had happened.
Pizza was on Friday, the guinea pig’s amnesiac experience of melted burrata, and his first conscious understanding of the cheese was to come on Sunday. I whisked coarse mustard, balsamic, honey and olive oil with salt and pepper, and tossed in arugula and grated carrots. The arugula is a peppery green, and carrots add a subtle sweetness. On top I sliced a burrata ball down the middle. A rush of white oozing from the first puncture, I tried to keep things in tact with the blade of my knife, giving him his half with sliced tomatoes, and mine with none- I do not care for tomatoes in the raw.
“Ahhh, burrata! I’ve heard about that!” He pronounces “heard” like “hear” with a “d” sound at the end.
I guess I took his burrata virginity this weekend. And mine too.
Thank you Sicilian to have set us up.
Now if we can only find a way to somehow partially cook, grill, char, or crisp the crust, keeping it intact, and having the insides ooze like hot lava with the poke of a fork, that would be raunchy.