Hanging out with The Laughing Tomato

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Story and photos by Nikki Gardner

Its a blustery sun-drenched April morning in Northampton.

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The Laughing Tomato pizza duo, Armando and Sue, set up their mobile kitchen for the first Tuesday

Market of the season. Sue backs their Suburban and loaded trailer into their regular spot where, over the next few hours, an open-air pizza shop comes together. They unload the wood, tent, folding tables, dishwashing tubs, and refrigerated prep rail before unpacking a cooler filled with dough, toppings, cheeses, and sauce from their shared kitchen rental in the basement of Thornes Marketplace.

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Armando lights a fire in their custom-built oven, aka The Tomato, which reaches up to 800 and cooks 80 to 100 pizzas on market day. He tends the fire while Sue barters for local ingredients from New England Wild Edibles (ramps), Red Fire Farm (basil), and Old Friends Farm (spinach). Around noon, Giselle arrives ready to shape and dock the dough before it goes into the fire to par bake. Soon after, Amanda shows up to take orders: specialty and popular pies include the Snowball (red sauce, mozzarella, asiago, fresh garlic, spinach, grape tomatoes, and ricotta) and Nutella (Nutella, mascarpone whipped cream, and powdered sugar) pies.

Nearly 12 hours later, the couple packs up and heads home until the next market or catered event. The days are long and the seasons short, yet the people and food that gather in their mobile kitchen make it all worthwhile.

TheLaughingTomato.com

Nikki Gardner is a writer and photographer whose work has appeared in Artful Blogging, The Huffington Post, Smithsonians Food & Think, and The Daily Meal. She shares seasonal vegan and vegetarian recipes on WWLPs Mass Appeal and in her cooking classes at Different Drummers Kitchen in Northampton. Find her online at Art & Lemons, where she chronicles everyday life in food, photos, and stories.

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