Deep-frozen, or deep-fried?

There are a lot of cultural differences in the world. Some people take salt in their liquorish, some people eat snails, others eat locust, some even mush up midges and make a sort of burger out of them. And the Scottish deep-fry things.

There’s a bit in Cold Granite where the main character – DS Logan McRae, has an argument with a Glaswegian reporter about the relative merits of Aberdonian cuisine. The reporter has a go at the noble Rowie*, and Logan retaliates by saying, "You can talk: your lot invented deep-fried pizza."

I found out – when a friend of a friend, who reads Norwegian got hold of a copy of Kald Granitt – that this exchange ended up being translated as ‘deep-frozen’ pizza, instead of deep-fried. Why? Because Lasse, who is a top notch translator, couldn’t believe we would do anything so bloody stupid as deep-fry a pizza. Not surprising really, if I handn’t seen (and eaten) it myself I wouldn’t have believed it either.

Then this week I was going through some questions from Göran, who’s doing the Swedish translation. Never met the man, but he seems nice – hopefully I’ll get to meet him when the book comes out over there next year. And just on the off chance I thought I’d ask him what he thought of the deep-fried pizza reference… They'd done exactly the same thing - couldn't believe ANYONE would be daft enough to deep-fry a pizza, and had translated it as ‘deep-frozen’ instead.

That’s two for two. So I emailed my Italian editor Raffaello, just to check that they weren’t likewise flabbergasted by the Scottish propensity to chuck just about everything into boiling-hot fat. Not heard back yet, but that may be because we’ve given him a heart attack just thinking about this dreadful violation of his national cuisine.

I got to talking to Agent Phil and the lovely Isabella at Marjacq (she’s the real power behind the throne) and she tells me that there’s a few slight similarities in genuine Italian cooking, but only if you stretch the definition of deep-fried pizza to include things that aren’t actually fully submersed in hot fat. This is, of course a poor substitute for the real thing:

Deep-Fried Pizza (serves 2)

Preparation time – 10 minutes
Cooking time – 5 minutes

One 14 inch cheese, mushroom and tomato pizza cut in half (pre-frozen is fine)
Four large potatoes cut into half inch thick ‘fingers’ (AKA: chips)
One large industrial deep-fryer full of vegetable lard, or sunflower oil
Salt, vinegar and brown sauce (optional) to garnish

Heat the deep-fryer to very hot. If you’re gadget mad, you can employ a spotty youngster to do this for you. Fold the pizza bits in half so that the sauce, toppings and cheese are on the inside. Now drop this in a deep-fat-fryer for five minutes. Meanwhile, throw the ‘fingered’ potatoes into the fryer.
Remove the chips and pizza from the hot fat and cover with salt, vinegar and brown sauce (optional). Eat while still full of scalding napalm-style cheese and dripping with grease.
For that authentic twist, you should consume at least six pints of beer, or strong cider as an aperitif.

Isabella feels that the folding over makes it a kind of calzone**, only not sealed round the edges, or lovingly baked in an oven. Too true – this is a fourteen inch defrosted pizza chucked in a deep-fat fryer.

Is there any wonder Scotland has the highest incidence of heart disease in Europe?

* For those of you with a baking bent, you can try making your own rowies...
** incidentally, apparently 'Calzone' is the Italian/Florentine for 'pantalone' = trousers. Mmm, trouser pizza… On second thoughts, let’s not go there.