When I was in college, on many a drunken evening roommates and I ordered a thing called a “faz” from a local pizzeria. It was pizza dough loaded with a ghastly tomato sauce and grated domestic mozzarella, folded in half, sealed, and baked in the oven. When a faz arrived at your dorm room door, its gooey molten interior oozed out on your first bite. It was dangerous. Of course we scalded ourselves every time. To a nineteen-year-old, a faz was nothing if not delicious. Until recently I had blotted this culinary error from memory; now, having retrieved it accidentally, I wish it back to oblivion, where it belongs.
I remember it because twice now, in early evening when my wife and I have wished only a light snack for an evening meal, we’ve gone to La Piada del Centro in Rimini for a cassone. Somewhere in the twisted, mutant DNA of the faz there are traces, amiable antecedents connecting it to cassone of the southern Romagna and northeastern Marches regions.
Roughly the same idea: dough folded over the junk you want inside it. Next is griddle, not oven. The bold and seductive departure of cassone from the faz is the junk you want inside a cassone. La Piada del Centro, run by the gracious and effervescent Meris, offers an amazing range of choices:
The list goes on. My wife’s preference is simple. Erbe, whole wheat dough. Make that double erbe for her. In my case, possibly my DNA was bent by the faz back in college. I could have mozzarella, prosciutto cotto, and carciofini (baby artichoke) or the vegetariano (mozzarella, zucchini and melanzane grigliate e funghi–grilled vegetables and mushrooms). Instead, my default is mozzarella e pomodoro.
Every so often we walk past a cassone shop. They’re all over the place here. The other day we were buying knee-high rubber boots, getting ready for two days in Venice. Next door to the hardware store was a cassone stand. It was raining gently. Nevertheless, inhaling the fragrances emanating from that stand, in the thrall of Italian street food, I was happy to linger and muster appetite.
No, we didn’t. But very easily we could have.