I went to visit an old friend the other evening. Franco Pepe – yes, THE Franco Pepe of one of the hottest pizzerias on the planet – Pepe in Grani in Caiazzo – a small town in the Caserta province. I went, as one usually does when one visits an amico, to catch up on things, relax, have a beer or two. That has always been the case with Franco. Except that sometimes Franco likes to add something to the mix
It was around 9 pm, I was hanging out in the kitchen when Pepe called me over. Come here a minute –
Ok. Why not?
I met Pepe at one of his two pizza ovens. He had an egg in his hands and as about to crack it open. Wait! I pulled out my camera because I knew that something special was about to happen.
I was right. At that moment, Franco was about to serve up a pizza that he had never served to anyone outside of his staff before.
He cracked open an egg onto pizza dough previously topped and quickly cooked with creamy Grana Padano cheese that had been aged for 12 months and pancetta bacon courtesy of my fav-black Caserta pork.
Then the pizza went back into the oven for just a bit – then sprinkled in pepper – then back in.
Extra virgin olive oil is added at the end, by Pepe himself.
For me, the memories were obvious – but for Pepe? He shared with me memories of Caiazzo and his father on Wednesday mornings. During the mercato, when his father would serve pizzas topped with egg to his customers. His mom often added a slice of cheese on top. A connection that is very important to anything ne. How does it relate to the past? Your past.
Karen, we need a name – something in English.
Then it was time for my memories to kick in. I also thought about my father. Who, whenever I visited with my son David over the past few years, would wake up early and fix us something to eat.