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pizza acrobats...who knew?

Had I been named in one of those cultures that named people based on qualities they possessed, rather than choices made from a book length list, i think dances with food would have been a good choice. I often call the interweaving motion of multiple cooks working together kitchen dancing and I prefer cooking with live music--well, really doesn't everyone want a house band?

There is a something about turning down the lights, turning up the music and being one with the food you are preparing. Music is energizing and provides a distraction from the sometimes mindless transformation of raw food to finished dish. (Duh factoid for the day: kneading bread by hand is easier while listening to music with a solid beat.) Natural or candle light feels organic and soothing, especially when the lights are the only thing in the kitchen that's not turned on. Put music and candles together with fresh food, some inspiration and I am a happy kitchenMage indeed. When I have kids over to visit, we often bake cookies by candlelight while being serenaded...and the cookies do taste better that way, you know.

It's also my favorite way to do one of those all day cooking binges--you know, the kind where you start the day by shaping bread dough and drinking something caffeinated while flipping through cookbooks; move on to a massive mise en place that leaves the kitchen looking like a sous chef trying out for Iron Chef just breezed through; spend some quality time with a variety of appliances, both small and large--this part is often hot and noisy as it involves motors and blades and ovens and sizzling things, of course, that's what makes it fun too. And when it all fits together just right, it's like a dance; you get caught up in the moment, you move without much conscious thought...chop, braid, mince, stir, sip, whip, poke, ice, arrange, wrap...and suddenly you have a lot of food ready to serve (not to mention a load of dirty clothes and one or two of dishes) I try to coordinate these days with the schedule of my house band.

...but I digress. Back to the pizza acrobats.

I caught the last few minutes of some pizza competition on the Food Network today; the "acrobat" from the California team--or is that Team California. He tossed multiple rounds of dough around, rolled them across his shoulders like someone with a basketball, and threw spun circles of dough--most sporting a large hole, this is obviously not the eating part of the competition--to an oddly appreciative audience. He ended by spinning a large and bright orange round of dough, said to represent the California sun, over the heads of the bemused judges. I couldn't tell if this was some special act or a regular part of the pizza making schtick these days so I stuck around for the judging.

Turns out this is a team position--the acrobat! How cool is that? Oh sure, it's not at all about the food, but it is fun. And if paper sushi is part of dining out then so are pizza acrobats. Now I just have to find a restaraunt that has one on staff!

But I am left wondering: Have I missed other dancing with food events? Perhaps a baguette juggling contest in some French village? (I'm not sure I'd count the day where they roll down the hill after the cheese, that seems more rodeo than dance.) Are there schools? Some secret course at the CIA? Does it pay well? Is this part of a career path I missed?

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