Natick, Mass., is the site of the Army's Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate (it sounds like something out of a sci-fi movie and frankly, it kind of is). This is where the Army has conducted its food research and product development for the past 50 years. Michele Richardson, senior food technologist there, led WBUR's reporters (Boston's NPR station) through the massive test kitchens. "First strike rations" are a new innovation, meant to efficiently sustain front line troops, no matter the environment they find themselves in. Practically speaking, this means food that needs to have a shelf life of three years at 80 degrees and six months at 100 degrees—all without refrigeration.
The organization has already created a first strike bagel, but now they've set their sight on bigger game: pizza. The different characteristics (watery sauce, absorbent dough, and so on) of the ingredients, says Richardson, make it a complicated process. The invention of a proprietary packet of iron filings to soak up moisture and rust—to prevent those pies from dissolving into piles of mold—was a key innovation in development. They plan to have both a plain cheese variety and one that comes with turkey pepperoni (a more universally accepted option than pork). Field tests begin in August: the final product will be airdropped by parachute in remote locations, or dropped from helicopters at 50 feet, sans parachute—clearly they aren't planning on delivering these babies in cardboard boxes.
If any of you happened to watch Food Network's Chopped on Sunday, you might have been rewarded for turning away from the big game—pizzaiolo and ReNapoli owner Bruno DiFabio was a guest judge on a special episode all about pizza. If you're not familiar with the show, the basic premise is this: four chefs have to create three courses with three different baskets of mystery ingredients, leaving one final champion in the kitchen. In this particular episode, each basket included a variety of pizza dough, made by DiFabio himself (which included a polish and a Biga, according to Pizza Today). The episode will re-air tonight at 9, so if you didn't catch it the first time, be sure to tune in.
The Consumerist has clued us in to yet another new Pizza Hut entrant into the mad world of chain pizzas. What strange new creation have they birthed this time? The Cheesy 7 Sensation Pizza, and yes, it actually has seven cheeses. Mozzarella, Parmesan, provolone, Monterey Jack, Romano, cheddar, and cream cheese all make the roster. The crust is crimped into a kind of flower shape, despite the clear lack of anything delicate or floral in the pie. The two toppings combinations on offer are Pineapple & Pastrami Pork (pepperoni, pastrami, pineapple, olives, tomato sauce) and Crayfish & Scallop (crayfish, baby scallops, cucumbers, peaches, olives, and lobster sauce). I'm going to have to pass, I think—there's a little too much of an ohgodjustputeverythingonit vibe for me—but I'd be very curious to hear about any taste tests.
Finally, Wall Street Journal brings us the confrontation recap between NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio and Daily Show host Jon Stewart last night. Stewart had previously bombasted De Blasio for using a fork and knife to eat his pie, and after some banter, the two got down to the crux of the matter. Stewart started: "Now Bloomberg, as you know, used to have his food chewed and put back into his mouth, like a baby bird. But this is unacceptable." Then, to the delight of the audience, he drew out a John's sausage and mushroom pie, presenting it as kind of eating test for the Mayor. De Blasio went to take a fork and knife from his jacket...but Stewart stopped him, showed him how it was done, and—after some more Bloomberg ribbing—De Blasio folded, literally and figuratively, eating his slice (with his hands) to cheers.