• March 17th, 2009mr meanerpizza, types of food

    Gluten intolerance must be a really difficult thing to live with, especially if you’re vegetarian or vegan. Even if you’re an omnivore, so many delicious foods that gluten-tolerant people eat are completely off-bounds if you can’t digest the base ingredient in flour – indeed, the very thing that holds most baked goods together and turns crumbs into something chewy and tastily edible.

    As a vegan by choice I know how having minority dietary requirements can be a real problem for eating out, but to be gluten intolerant, and therefore have NO choice but to avoid many foods (or get sick) must be a real bind, to say the least. I was pleased to see on a recent trip to Locali some tiny (a little under 6”) vegan, gluten-free pizzas in the freezer all wrapped up in a bag. Being a pizza fan of the highest order I grabbed a bag of four and headed to the cash register. When the gentleman rang up $25, I assumed it was a mistake, and jokingly said “hey! Don’t want to break the bank!”, to which he replied “Oh, this is a special price. They’re normally $7 each but four are only $25.”. I headed straight back to the freezer with them, and settled for a bag of wasabi peas instead.

    I did some research when I got home, and it turns out the pizzas are made by The Sensitive Baker in Culver City, and are sold on their website for the exact same price. I love a challenge to discern the value of something expensive, so I was delighted when, on another trip to Locali, they were selling the pizzas individually. I threw down $14+tax of hard earned cash, and headed home with two frozen pizzas in hand.

    sensitive baker vegan and gluten-free pizza

    sensitive baker vegan and gluten-free pizza

    Now, I’m used to eating pizza by the slice with a good crust and hearty toppings – and, as anybody that’s seen my girth lately can tell you, several slices at that. When I got home I unpacked the pizza to expose something that really wasn’t much bigger in diameter than one of those large chocolate-chip cookies they sell at the checkout of Whole Foods, only a whole lot thinner. By thin, I mean the thickness of a couple of stacked quarters.


    I’m commenting on the size (or lack thereof!) of the pizzas because I had just spent so much money on two, and wishing I’d bought four to feed two people — clearly, the “four in a bag for $25” deal should be what you’d go for, assuming money is no object. Anyways, I popped the pizzas in the oven per the directions and wolfed one down in about 30 seconds, taking eight bites to do so. I then immediately made myself a boca burger with salsa on top as I was so hungry.


    And, after checking the nutrition information I was SHOCKED to learn that each pizza was 450 CALORIES — that’s as much energy as in three bags of potato chips. No, not the healthy “baked” kind, but the good, old-fashioned “Lay’s Classic” that makes one feel bloated after eating. This pizza is a source of concentrated calories of about the same as a three slices of a Pizza Hut 12” pizza, but a whole lot less satisfying.


    From the bottom up, this was not an exceptional pizza, and certainly nothing special for the price. The crust was hard and crispy with no soft interior (I’ve been told that can be a side-effect of poorly designed gluten-free dough — after all, I’ve had gluten-free burger buns that are perfectly crispy and soft in all the right places). The sauce was watery – like somebody opened a can of tomato puree, diluted it and brushed it on the ‘crust’. There were about two tablespoons of cashew/tahini “cheese” which tasted decent (only because it was fattening enough to meet the nutritional requirements of 5 people in one day) right on top of the aqueous tomato puree.


    So, a pizza that was this unimpressive (I’m a-telling you: a piece of dough with watered-down tomato puree and some Follow Your Heart cheese would be an equal match) begs many, many questions….

    So, help me out here. Are you gluten intolerant? Do you know anybody that is? Have you ever made a gluten-free pizza… Or a gluten-free anything? Should a gluten-free pizza be nasty yet cost almost 90 cents a bite? Are gluten-intolerant people so desperate for a pizza that this is actually a god-send and value for money?

    If this is the state of the art of gluten-free cooking, and it’s value for money I’d love to know – please leave a comment. If not, there has to be a better way to feed our gluten-free friends (some of whom are vegan: that requires a lot of dedication and courage).

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