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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Hot Pizzas and Hot Peppers

Uploaded: Feb 10, 2015

I had a Dentist Appointment on Crow Canyon Road yesterday to finish up a crown on a broken tooth. After leaving the Dentist I drove up Crow Canyon Road to the Petco to pick up some cat food. The new On Fire Pizza place is in the same shopping mall as the Petco, so I thought I'd stop in there and try it for lunch.

They have a lunch special from 11 am to 4 pm for people who take very long lunches. The special includes a 1 topping 12" pizza and fountain drink (12 oz. soda) for $6.99. I don't drink sodas anymore, mostly just seltzer, so the owner offered a bottle of water instead of the soda. I added a second topping for $1, and got sausage and jalapeño peppers. The owner warned me the peppers are fresh and would be hot.

A lot of people think jalapeno peppers are hot, but they are near the bottom of the Scoville heat scale. I didn't taste the sausage, which was spread in a thin layer across the whole pizza, but the jalapenos were just the right heat level for me. I liked the freshness of the flavor too. When peppers are too hot, the hotness kills the flavor. Since I'm accustomed to jalapenos, the heat doesn't mask the flavor for me, and jalapenos have a nice, distinctive flavor.

About 20 years ago I tried to start a fruit sauce business. I'm good at starting businesses but not good at making any money from them. One of my most popular sauces was an apricot-jalapeno catsup. Yes there are fruit based catsups. Heinz popularized tomato catsup, but before that there were recipes for plum catsup, apricot catsup, even walnut catsup.

I made hot and mild versions of apricot catsup, which I called Hot Cot Sass and Mild Cot Sass. My company name was Sssassy Sauces. The difference between the Hot Cot and the Mild Cot was the inclusion of the seeds and core of the jalapenos in the hot version. Only the shells were used in the Mild version. These were blended with fresh apricots, sugar, salt, vinegar, and a dash of onion powder. I can't find my recipes anymore, and I don't remember the proportions I used to make the different sauces.

Capsaicin is the element in hot peppers that makes them hot. I've read that capsaicin is addictive and taste buds adjust to the heat level; so after a while a higher level is needed to meet the heat requirements expected. My tolerance of jalapenos has grown over the years.

We did not have a lot of spicy food when I was growing up. My mother considered my Mild Cot Sass too hot to eat. Mother's Uncle Louie complained that paprika was not hot enough. He used to say real Hungarian paprika is hot, not this bland red stuff Americans use. Many years ago I used to order the medium paprika from Paprikas Weiss in New York. Real Hungarian hot paprika is as hot as cayenne and too hot for me.

My Grandmother's family came from the village of Mad, Hungary. My sister and her husband visited there about two years ago. It is a very small village in the Hungarian wine country. Before WWII, there was a Catholic side and a Jewish side. The Jewish Cemetery is all that's left of the Jewish side now.

My Grandmother came over from Hungary with her older sister in 1884. Grandma was about 12 years old. Her sister Pauline was a few years older. Uncle Louie was the youngest brother. He was quite a character. He married a non-Jewish woman, but they had to hide it from his very Orthodox father. They never had children, but they were a great couple.

Well now that I've traveled through Hungary and New York, let's return to San Ramon and On Fire Pizza. I liked the pizza. It had a nice, thin crust. I asked if they deliver, but they don't. The owner said they cater, which includes a deep dish pizza for six. I know I can eat enough for two and sometimes three, but not for six. Maybe when my sister and her husband come to visit I'll try the catered pizza.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Harald Paul Arthur Balle, a resident of Alamo,
on Feb 11, 2015 at 10:41 am

Thank you, Ms. Rogoff, for your continuing words and thoughts.


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