Author Topic: Evelyne, I Need a Favor  (Read 9391 times)

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Offline pftaylor

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Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« on: August 09, 2006, 04:09:51 PM »
Evelyne,
I am delighted you have decided to share your knowledge and love of pizza with us. I have a sense you will fit right in. This brings me to a handful of follow on questions regarding your recent posts. I trust you will not find them too intrusive. My sole intent is to understand.

Out of curiosity, I wonder if you could elaborate on your notion that pizzamaking.com is the best amateur and semi-pro site on the net. I agree that only a few of our learned members know the ins and outs of profitably running a pizza business. This in my opinion however, has little to do with understanding the technique of constructing a world-class pizza. Irrespective of pizza style, our membership has recognized experts in nearly every imaginable category from the smallest ingredient to the venerable Neapolitan Margherita. It just so happens that the vast majority of them practice their trade at home. Collectively they represent the deepest body of publicly available pizza making knowledge in existence. A common view of most pizza retailers is that they are commercial operators but not necessarily professionals. My personal research has concluded that nearly all pizza operators could care less about quality. Profit is their game. Quality however, is the province of an artisan. The true professional. Most retailers cannot successfully commercialize an artisan approach whereas in a home setting, the match is ideal.

I have also enjoyed your frank and candid observations about Lombardi’s pizza. The recent pies I have had there were bready and devoid of any notable flavor. Tourist trap is my best description. As you may be aware I have written extensively about Patsy’s Pizza which, as you know, is an offspring from Lombardi. The original thread is entitled Reverse Engineering Patsy’s Pizza located in the NY Style section of the site. On the first page of that thread, Ilpizzaiolo elaborated on the connection with Lombardi and traced the formula back to Italy. The basic formula was 60% hydration, 2% salt, and a range of yeast from .125% to .75% depending on IDY or fresh and whether one choose a room temperature rise or refrigerated. I would be interested in your thoughts about the history of the Lombardi formula as it relates to where in Italy it may have originated from, the mutations over time due to ingredient choices and various oven types. I would also be keenly interested in any links you could connect to authentic Neapolitan pizza. Finally, I would like to know how accurate the formula listed in my thread actually is, as well as any techniques you could share to improve, and your understanding of the connection with Patsy's. Whew!

I look forward to the kindness of your response.
Pizza Raquel is Simply Everything You’d Want.
www.wood-firedpizza.com


Offline gottabedapan

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2006, 06:25:59 PM »
Out of curiosity, I wonder if you could elaborate on your notion that pizzamaking.com is the best amateur and semi-pro site on the net.

Although it is increasingly common to use the word "amateur" pejoratively to mean "one lacking in skill or mastery," in contrast to "professional" in the sense of "having skill or mastery"—a usage driven largely by the use of the terms in sports and sports media—in its proper sense, "amateur"—from the French amator, lover, < Lat. amare, "to love"—denotes "one who engages in a pursuit out of passion; a devotee," as opposed to "one who engages in a pursuit as an occupation." Understood in its proper sense, Ms. Slomon is entirely correct in describing pizzamaking.com as a site devoted (primarily) to "amateurs," as opposed to "professional" websites, e.g., PMQ.com, which are devoted primarily to pizza-making as a commercial concern.

Offline SLICEofSLOMON

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #2 on: August 11, 2006, 05:51:37 PM »
Hi all,

Gottabedaban has my meaning in amateur correct. I take the French meaning as some one who is a passionate devotee. There are plenty of professionals out there who are not amateurs, but they lack the passion and attention to detail that I see here. The difference is, that they make money at what they do and that puts them into the pro class. That being said, there are way more hacks in the pizza business than artisans. I don't see any hacks here.

I will try to help you out with your formula after I finish with my looming PMQ deadlines for the next week. If I can give you a short answer, I will, if not, I'll do it after I get done with my PMQ stuff. :chef:

Evelyne

Offline SLICEofSLOMON

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #3 on: August 11, 2006, 06:39:17 PM »
I'm back,

I took a look at the Ilpizzaiolo formula and it looks pretty right on. I've been a big fan of Patsy's for a number of years. First of all, they do not employ a starter--none of the old guys did. Carmella Lancieri (Patsy's widow) catagorically denied he worked with Lombardi, but then, I've also heard that he did work for him. The basic Patsy formula comes out of that mold, the only difference that I have in my notes is that the crust is a bit saltier and they use a higher gluten flour than Totonno's--around 12.50 to 13 (Totonno's was around 12-12.50). The other difference would account for the actual flour that they use. Even if the specs are the same, different brands and types of flours have different flavors and while they produce similar results in pizza, they can account for a slight difference in flavor--and texture. I once tasted a Patsy's pizza and drove straight from there over to Totonno's in Brooklyn just to try and taste the difference. The Totonno pizza was even lighter than Patsy's and the flavor of the wheat was more pronounced. The rest was in the individual signature of how the pizzaiolo stretched and fashioned the pizza. The Patsy's pie had a slightly smaller collar and the outer crust was a bit thicker, while the Totonno pizza had a thin, thin shatteringly crisp outer crust and an interior that was as light as a cloud...it was made especially for me by Jerry Pero and a pie from the hands of the master was a stellar experience which is why the Totonno slightly edged out the Patsy's. I graded both a perfect 10 with the Totonno's counting as a "cosmic" 10 it was so good. We then went to John;s right after Totonno's--and couldn't even finish a slice, it was like having a bad wine after 2 great bottles.

So, what I'm trying to get at, is that the Patsy formula is pretty much the same thing as the Lombardi--which is what set the stage for most of the pizza makers in NYC in the early part of the 20th century. One last thing, Lombardi was a pizzaiolo in Naples before he came to the States, he adapted Neapolitan pizza here utilizing American ingredients and baking technologies: ie the coal oven instead of the wood-burning, and high gluten bread flour (12-12.50) for the Italian (they did not have 00 then and European flours were decidedly softer and weaker than American flours. They still are, but Europeans blend in American and Canadian flours to improve on flour performance and quality)


I know that doesn't fully answer your question, but it does answer a little bit...we'll get to it all eventually


Evelyne

Offline pftaylor

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #4 on: August 12, 2006, 11:32:12 AM »
Thanks for the kindness of your replies.
Giddy with anticipation of what we can collaborate on and accomplish together; I feel like a kid in a candy shop and am not sure where to begin with my questions. You are so knowledgeable in the specific area I am trying to become proficient in, authentic first generation NY style pizza, I am uncertain of a next step. So, I will start somewhere and hope to go everywhere by the time we are done. Time and PMQ permitting of course.

But first, a little background is in order so that you can put my intent and understanding of pizza into proper context. I was born in Brooklyn many decades ago and have routinely returned to NY over the years trying to find the pizza of my childhood. Sadly, I am compelled to say that it nearly no longer exists commercially. It seems the combination of a deterioration in the old way of making pizza coupled the influx of cheap ingredients, has rendered nearly all NY pizza pedestrian in nature. A step above chain pizza to be sure, but not anywhere near what use to be available in neighborhoods across the city. In particular the one I grew up in.

Some of our membership truly understand the brilliance of Neapolitan pizza. They will claim that NY pizza never was very good to begin with. But that is argument for another day. Or maybe it isn’t, and that is precisely what perplexes me about the journey I have taken these past few years in search of the highest quality pizza available. It all seems to point to Italy, Naples to be exact. Hence my interest in all things Lombardi/Patsy related. 

When I first started my journey I thought the goal was to recreate a Patsy’s style pizza in the comfort of my home. I even spent a couple of grand on a grill which catapulted my available heat to 800+ degrees just to obtain a rough approximation of the heat necessary to produce the pie I was in search of. What I eventually found out, with the considerable help of the fellow members of this forum, was that we were soon able to surpass the elite NY establishments. The reasons stemmed from an assiduous attention to detail, cost-no-object ingredients, robust preparation and stretching regimens, and heat. Lots and lots of delicious heat. A two minute bake will produce a wondrous result. Not to mention the countless trail and error batches of dough. Fact is, dough made without a proper starter (biga, poolish, etc.) just doesn’t have the texture and flavor snap of dough enhanced with a good culture. So we have conclusively proven, at least in my mind, that pizza of the highest quality can be produced in one’s home. My humble efforts have been meticulously recorded in the Pizza Raquel and Sophia threads as well as the Patsy reverse engineering thread. They represent a single-minded effort to produce the finest pizza available without respect to cost. Truth be told, I still have a long way to go. Tools such as a wood burning oven and a fork mixer still have to be procured before I can begin to reach the top of my pizza mountain.

So with all that as a background, here is my question. Is the original Lombardi/Patsy/Totanno approach the ultimate expression of artisan pizza making you are referring to? Or do we have to take another step back in time all the way to Naples?
pftaylor
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Offline SLICEofSLOMON

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #5 on: August 12, 2006, 02:50:43 PM »

"So with all that as a background, here is my question. Is the original Lombardi/Patsy/Totanno approach the ultimate expression of artisan pizza making you are referring to? Or do we have to take another step back in time all the way to Naples?"
pftaylor

Hi pftaylor

You have no idea how timely your quote is. I am currently writing the intro feature for PMQ about artisan pizza: what it is, what it is not and who is doing it; it is time to officially define it as a movement. In 2007 I will be writing a regular column for them devoted entirely to artisan pizza subjects. This piece that I'm working on is important because it will be the first major article written about artisan pizza in a trade journal--and probably anywhere else. The term has been kicked around, but no one has, as of yet, tackled defining it.

I have been kicking the term around since 1991 when I became a member of the Bread Bakers Guild of America and a devotee of artisan bread techniques. It was my dream for pizza makers to embrace the artisan approach to pizza and really take their craft and passion to the highest level. Slowly, that's been happening, partially as a result of the influence of the artisan bread movement and culinary movements such as Slow Food and the growing demand for hand-produced, sustainable, organic, locally procuced and grown ingredients. Plus a few additional culinary influences.

I'm sure we will be discussing all of this in detail over time, but briefly, I will explain what I mean by artisan pizza. I've noticed that on this site there are a number of camps on pizza--and that is very typical of pizza lovers and makers--it's what makes pizza a global passion. However, in my universe, and I do mean unisverse, there are many different ways to approach this subject. For example, I bristle at someone telling me that only greatness can be had from a pizza made in Naples in New York City or New Haven or anywhere else. I believe that great pizza can be made by anyone--anywhere--who has the skill , the passion and the desire to create the best pizza they possibly can. There certainly are styles and methods to be observed: for example if one wishes to make a VPN style pizza, certain proceedures, ingredients and equipment would become necessary. As soon as some one strays from that methodology, it becomes a variation--or something else: Neapolitanesque--in the manner of Naples. The old master style of NY pizza such as the Lombardi formula is not generally practised in pizzerias in NYC--only a few hold outs still do it (even if they don't do it as well).
Then there are the Chris Biancos, Una Pizza Napoletana's and others out there who are putting their own destinctive touch to their pizza from numerous influences.

Personally, as a pizza maker who has specialized in these techniques for over 30 years, my methodology and formul keep on evolving as well. The pizza that I produce now surpasses what I learned from my masters by a long shot. I'm not bragging about this, but in chosing the artisan approach, I am continually questioning my ingredients and methods. I am continually fine-tuning my pizza--like an artist does to artwork. The difference between me and my mentors, is that they only knew how to do one thing--which they did exceedingly well, but they were never driven to understand what they werer doing or to attempt to take it to new heights. For them, it always was and always would be.

In those days, procucts were for the most part, pure. Most everything was made by hand and flour milled in small batches, so they didn't have to think about the choice. However, as pizza progressed into the 50's, choices were made, and the pizza changed--to a lesser extent for the masters, but for the rest, it changed significantly. At first, I only wanted to return to the exact ways of the old formula--and I did attain that goal back in the early 80's, but it wasn't enough. When I became exposed to artisan bread, I had my epiphany. (I used to be an artist, so I tend to make art analogies, so please forgive me.) But when you first study art, you create works that have all of the influences off your favorite artists--the same is for pizza. However, you do not become a mature artist until you find your own style--your own voice. That is what happened to me, and that is when I surpassed my mentors and developed my own mature style.

So what does this have to do with artisan pizza? Everything, it's not the style, but the substance that makes an artisan pizzaiolo. Here are some of the ground rules I will be discussing in the article: to satisfy "artisan" the pizza must be hand formed and hand stretched--no presses, sheeters or dough rounders. Mixers are acceptable, but the dough management off the mixer must be by hand. The ingredients must be pure, no additives, arificial ingredients, extenders or conditioners. Dough management is based on traditional methods of direct mix, or indirect mix, natural yeasts, starters, preferments etc. Tomatoes can be any high quality tomato: what to look for? Fresh-pak and no citric acid--San Marzano only? No, that is a matter of taste and the type of pizza you wish to produce. Look for locally produced and grown sustainable, organic--whenever possible and support local artisans who are hand-producing their cheese, sausage, salumi etc. Time is when the pizza is properly baked and not looking at it with a production stop watch as most commercial operators do.

Artisan pizza is not for every one, but it is a growing movement. Most certainly all of you on this site are already artisan pizza makers.

Sorry if this sounds stilted but it's a big, big subject and I'm in the middle of trying to get it down on paper.

Let the discussion begin...

Offline David

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #6 on: August 12, 2006, 02:51:28 PM »


So, what I'm trying to get at, is that the Patsy formula is pretty much the same thing as the Lombardi--which is what set the stage for most of the pizza makers in NYC in the early part of the 20th century. One last thing, Lombardi was a pizzaiolo in Naples before he came to the States, he adapted Neapolitan pizza here utilizing American ingredients and baking technologies: ie the coal oven instead of the wood-burning, and high gluten bread flour (12-12.50) for the Italian (they did not have 00 then and European flours were decidedly softer and weaker than American flours.

I know that doesn't fully answer your question, but it does answer a little bit...we'll get to it all eventually


Evelyne

So with all that as a background, here is my question. Is the original Lombardi/Patsy/Totanno approach the ultimate expression of artisan pizza making you are referring to? Or do we have to take another step back in time all the way to Naples?
pftaylor

I think that as they adapted fuel,ingredients,ovens etc.they were just doing the same as some of us are using our home ovens.Surely the Original is the ultimate?Each deviation is a step further away IMO.On any visit to Lombardi's,Patsy's (Brooklyn),Johns - I don't believe they truly represented Artisan Neapolitan Pizza (Thier inspiration and roots?).Just going by apearance aloneI think the likes of  Bill/SFNM,Spacca Napoli,Il Pizzaiolo are closer.
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Offline SLICEofSLOMON

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #7 on: August 12, 2006, 07:29:17 PM »
Hi David,

Am I understanding you to say that what Lombardi et al produced at the turn of the 19th was not artisan because it differed from the original Neapolitan version? Does that mean that all of the artisan bread bakers in the US don't produce artisan bread because they don't use European flour and have adapted classic French and Italian baking techniques for classic breads to work here in America? I think not. You are confusing artisan with a particular style. Lombardi wanted to reproduce a dish from his home town: he used a coal oven (the only type available to him) and he used the local bread flour (the only kind available to him). You cannot equate what you do at home to what was done then. You have all kinds of choices--you can make your pizza from a mix, in a bread machine--with a vast array of flours and utilizing hand techniques or machines. In Lombardi's day, there was no choice--so all pizza that was produced at that time was artisan--whether it was produced in Naples or in New York City.  I

In this day and age, artisan pizza making is a choice that can be applied to a wide range of pizza styles. Why do you assume that only Neapolitan can be artisan? I'm not taking away from the great tradition of Neapolitan pizza, but it is most certainly not the only tradtion and after a whole century, I believe that we are entitled to our own classic pizza roots. The Lombardi formula differs markedly from the original and should be judged on its own.

The artisan pizza movement is not just about trying to duplicate authentic Neapolitan pizza--the VPN movement is a sub-catagory of the whole movement.  Artisan pizza is about observing and returning to the time-honored traditions of pizza making--both here in the US and in Naples. Many professionals are combining techniques from both and adding some bread baking technique for good measure. I think you will find that for many upcoming artisan pizzaiolos it is about personal expression.  For some pizza makers, strict adherence to the Neapolitan model is their goal, but to others, it represents a stepping stone to branch out into their own signature style. Surely no one is going to reinvent the wheel when it comes to pizza, but how boring would it be if every artisan pizzaiolo turned out only true Neapolitan pizza.

Artisans observe traditions, traditional methodology and pure ingredients. In some cases they specialize in a particular style, for others it is about their own special style. They all observe utilizing hands on methods in part or for all of their production process. Whether they choose to express themselves in whatever form they like, be it New York Style, Chicago Style, New Haven and Neapolitan Style--or Roman or Sicilian, or Grandma or Grandpa--or whatever style they want-- it is still artisan pizza.

I am involved in putting together an American Artisan Pizza Association and so far, I have the support of some of the movers and shakers of the movement, all of them are in agreement that artisan should apply to every type of pizza as long as certain qualifications have been met. For example, use of a wood-burning oven versus a deck does not create one artisan pie over another one, just a different baking effect. The important thing that they all agree on is that artisan pizza must be formed and finished by hand and with pure ingredients utilizing traditional fermentation techniques without additives, extenders and conditioners... That's where it all seems to be going...


Evelyne

Offline PizzaBrewer

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #8 on: August 12, 2006, 07:46:08 PM »
Hi Evelyne:  I'm glad to see someone with your knowledge and depth of industry experience join the discussions here!

I'm very interested in your focus on artisan pizza.  I'm a professional brewer, and everything you've said about artisan pizzamaking is exactly parallel to what's happened in craft brewing the past 25 years.

I'm in the process of opening a craft brewery/brewpub.  No pizza at first but if things go well I'd like to do something special with pizza in "Phase 2".  When that time comes I hope to lean heavily on this site and (hopefully) your knowledge.  I'm confident with my brewing skills but I'm still a stumbling beginner with my pizzamaking. 

And it seems that your attitude about pizza is the same as mine about brewing:  A good brewer should never be satisfied.

Thanks again for your contributions!

---Guy
Man does not live by bread alone.  There's also tomato, cheese and pepperoni.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #9 on: August 12, 2006, 08:58:31 PM »
I am involved in putting together an American Artisan Pizza Association and so far, I have the support of some of the movers and shakers of the movement, all of them are in agreement that artisan should apply to every type of pizza as long as certain qualifications have been met. For example, use of a wood-burning oven versus a deck does not create one artisan pie over another one, just a different baking effect. The important thing that they all agree on is that artisan pizza must be formed and finished by hand and with pure ingredients utilizing traditional fermentation techniques without additives, extenders and conditioners... That's where it all seems to be going...

Evelyne,

The formation of an American Artisan Pizza Association is a great idea! I hope individuals who don't have commercial operations will be able to join. Yes?

I agree that rigid definitions about what is and what isn't artisan pizza are not useful. My particular style these days is a Neapolitan dough topped with anything that complements, but does not obscure, the character of the crust.

So glad you have joined this forum.

Bill/SFNM


Offline pftaylor

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #10 on: August 12, 2006, 09:04:40 PM »
Just as this thread starts to get hotter than a Neapolitan pizza oven, I find myself in travel status starting tomorrow morning with extremely limited access to a computer for posting. My luck. Oh well, I openly invite the membership to jump on and hold on by posting your interpretation of artisan pizza. It will surely be a wild ride.

All will not be lost in the desert of Las Vegas during my business trip as I will figure out a way to make it to an artisan restaurant owned by fellow member Sumeri. Sumeri calls it Settebello and I can't wait to try his artisan interpretation of a Neapolitan Margherita. Copious pictures will follow.

One final point I would like to tack on to Evelyne's definition of artisan pizza. It is what I deem as the most important ingredient - the pizzaiolo. I can unequivocally state that I have never had a truly great pie made by anyone other than the owner of the particular pizza restaurant at which I was dining.

Coincidence? Maybe. But experience tells me that passion has to run through the veins of the pizzaiolo otherwise it turns out to be just dough, sauce, and cheese.
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Offline David

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #11 on: August 13, 2006, 12:28:31 AM »
Hi David,

Am I understanding you to say that what Lombardi et al produced at the turn of the 19th was not artisan because it differed from the original Neapolitan version?
Evelyne


Yes.
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline David

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #12 on: August 13, 2006, 01:07:30 AM »
Hi David,


I am involved in putting together an American Artisan Pizza Association and so far, I have the support of some of the movers and shakers of the movement, all of them are in agreement that artisan should apply to every type of pizza as long as certain qualifications have been met. That's where it all seems to be going...


Evelyne


Just like the VPN?

" I resign. I wouldn't want to belong to any club that would have me as a member "

« Last Edit: August 13, 2006, 01:12:56 AM by David »
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline David

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #13 on: August 13, 2006, 12:38:19 PM »
Hi Evelyne,
I should clarify my point instead of my knee jerk one word answer.PFT  asked 

"Is the original Lombardi/Patsy/Totanno approach the ultimate expression of artisan pizza making you are referring to?"

Rightfully,maybe to you it is,but not for me?As far as being Artisan is concerned I guess it was (As was pretty much everything produced by skilled craftsmen in those days).
I am a little wary of the over use of words such as Artisan (and Expert !).

 "You cannot equate what you do at home to what was done then."

Sorry, but the majority of home pizza makers have to be able to adapt  ovens,methods and ingredients in the quest to try and replicate the goods offered by commercial operators.High temp ovens,certain flours,commercially distributed bulk products etc. are often impractical and unavailable to the casual home baker.So IMO many are doing just as Lombardi,no?

I'm right beside you with your views on respect for tradition,and the apparent lack of it by many appalls me.Do people in a hotel in Las Vegas REALLY believe they are eating a New York or a Neapolitan Pizza?I for one was very saddened to hear that you were forced to compromise your ideals with the omition of  important information from your earlier book.It was the first pizza book I had ever purchased,and to this day is the receptacle for hand scribbled notes and recipes etc.It's such a shame as you had the vision and could well have made it into THE English language definitive Pizza book for many years to come.

It's funny how the Italians have produced some of the worlds most adventurous forward thinking designers (Mendini,Sottsass,Ponti) and are seemingly always looking for the new,always "pushing the envelope",yet are fiercely respectful of their Culinary heritage and traditions.Thank goodness!

I wish you well with your Association.I am personally just very skeptical after having seen how the VPN handled things (Bertuccis !).I know i sound like a scratched record at times ;)
Thanks for your valued input,
                                              David
   
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline SLICEofSLOMON

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #14 on: August 13, 2006, 06:24:52 PM »
Hi David,

Let me clarify what I posted earlier: I did not say that the Lombardi formula was the ultimate expression of artisan pizza making. I said that all pizza making in the 19th and early 20th century both in Italy and in the US was what we would call today: artisan. The term artisan refers to "a skilled manual worker: a craftsperson". Of course, there was no other choice but to make it by hand. Now, we refer to "artisan" as being hand-crafted using traditional techniques. I also agree that the term is over-used and misrepresented. When I see Jack in the Box referring to their ciabatta bread as artisan, I cringe.

No one style has the lock on artisan pizza.  If someone chooses, they can create an artisan deep-dish pizza, or an artisan Roman style pizza, or Sicilian--or New York, or New Haven or whatever else style they choose to work within. It is how they go about making the pizza and what ingredients they use that makes it artisan. It is the degree to which the product is hand produced that makes it artisan.

While today's home pizza maker does not have the full choice of commercial flours, ingredients and equipment employed by pizzerias, they do have a much broader selection of methods, techiques, ingredients and equipment than pizzaiolos did at the turn of the 19th century. That was the point I was trying to make. Yes they do have to adapt, and in that way, it is a bit like Lombardi, but they have so much more available to them now than he ever did. And, let's not forget the knowledge factor about technologies, ingredients and techniques is far greater than what was known back in those days.

There are "home" cooks or amateurs (and in this sense I mean non-professionals who are not making a living out of making pizza) who are so much more knowledgeable and passionate about their craft tthen so many of the hacks who own pizzerias and for whom it is only aobut money. Hopefully, there will be more budding pros who come out of these ranks.

As for The Pizza Book, well, that's publishing for you. The book broke ground in that it was the first cookbook that contained 75 pages of straight text about the history of pizza and of its ingredients. The publisher wouldn't let me put commercial information in the book because they didn't think the home cook would be interested. Hell, it took enough convincing them that there was really something to the craft of pizza making. Back then, it was just junk food that no one had much--if any respect for.

I'm putting the finishing touches on a proposal for a book that would be THE definitive pizza book for years to come. It represents the sum total of my knowledge and experiences with thousands of pizza makers both professional and non, master pizzaiolos and mom and pop joint guys and of everything else I've learned about pizza since I wrote that book over 30 years ago. I had to wait until The Pizza Book was finally out of print so that the rights would be returned to me. This time around, I think I'll be able to tell the whole story.

As for the artisan association, I believe it should be open to all who share the same ideals about pizza making whether they make 1 or 100. It seems that most of the people I've already talked about it to seem to share the same intentions: we want to raise the bar of pizza. We want it to be accepted as a culinary form. We want to honor traditional styles and techniques, We want to encourage the use of high quality, sustainable, organic, locally produced, hand-produced (as many of those as possible) ingredients and We firmly believe that all artisan doughs must be free of conditioners, extenders and additives. We also agree that in order for a pizza to be artisan, it must be hand formed and then hand stretched. Use of a mixer is allowed, but no rounder or sheeter and no dough press. That's as far as we've gotten. This is going to take a while...

Evelyne



Offline gottabedapan

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #15 on: August 13, 2006, 09:31:18 PM »
It's funny how the Italians have produced some of the worlds most adventurous forward thinking designers (Mendini,Sottsass,Ponti) and are seemingly always looking for the new,always "pushing the envelope",yet are fiercely respectful of their Culinary heritage and traditions.Thank goodness!

Respectful of, but by no means bound by, that heritage and tradition: witness the widespread use of the tomato—which wasn't introduced to Europe until sometime around 1540, and wasn't widely used as a food, even in Italy, until the 18th century—in Italian cuisine.

And fortunately for pizza-lovers everywhere, including Naples, when Raffaele Esposito's respect for the Pizza Napoletana tradition led him to extend rather than merely imitate the forms of his predecessors! (Clearly, he did not consider the "original" the ultimate!)

"Tradition depends upon an attitude of mind. This is a matter of heart. It is not a faithful following in the footsteps of a master, not a simple repetition of ancient forms, not mere imitation. For that would be parasitic of tradition, and, as in nature, when parasites become attached to a plant, it withers.

"At the heart of a true tradition is a constant feeling of dissatisfaction: a constant striving to come closer to the ideal, to express more faithfully the inexpressible. It is not the forms created by the teacher that are to be followed, but his aims, his vision, his spirit. Thus, the pursuit of tradition is a constant challenge, and, like the growth of a tree, its development depends on its adaptability to its environment and to the changes that take place there. Only through this constant reference to the present can the artist nurture his tradition, giving it more beauty and greater strength by finding new forms, developing new techniques."
— Kodo Otomaru

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #16 on: August 14, 2006, 10:54:19 AM »
From a purely personal standpoint, perhaps shared by many on this forum, I favor the idea of trying to preserve the classic approaches to making pizza, whether it is along the lines of what the VPN is trying to do (in theory) or what Evelyne may have in mind. Otherwise, over time the traditional pizzas that were much prized and revered are likely to be eroded or be emasculated to the point where they no longer bear a resemblance to the originals.

Lately I have been watching the re-runs of the History Channel food series that has been running on cable. What struck me was how much of the technological advancements that have been made in the food industry over the last few decades was just to meet a growing population. Much of what used to be done by hand, or by the use of simple tools and machines, would no longer be able to keep up with normal population growth, never mind any other considerations. As a result, in one food sector after another, product formulations and processes were modified to accommodate high-speed production processes, at just about every step along the way.

In the case of pizza, this often meant using cheaper ingredients, additives, conditioners, and preservatives. Nowhere was this more in evidence than in the frozen pizza sector, which has experienced phenomenal growth. In 1995, annual frozen pizza sales were around $1B. Last year, they were over $5B, and growing at a faster rate than the industry itself. This compares with around $30B for the big pizza chains and the corner mom-and-pop pizzerias, with Pizza Hut, Domino’s, Papa John’s, and Little Caesars alone accounting for around $16B of the total. But the frozen pizza industry isn’t done yet. The latest hot area for the frozen pizza manufacturers is microwavable pizza, which currently is a small but fast growing market segment. Those pizzas too will depend on automation and reformulations to be successful in the marketplace. To the extent they succeed, more market share will be taken away from traditional operators.

Finding themselves the targets of competition from the big companies with big R&D budgets, some traditional pizza operators have tried to stem business losses by offering take-and-bake versions of their standard pizzas or partially-baked pizzas for the consumer to finish in the home oven and hopefully achieve a more natural product. And independent take-and-bake operations have sprung up to offer their own, uniquely designed versions of take-and-bake pizzas.

I might have applauded these efforts because they appeared to be "natural" but when I took a look at what is in the pizzas from one of those operators, for example, from Papa Murphy’s, at http://www.papamurphys.com/public/nutri1_ingredientsList.html, I saw that their products are full of chemicals. Yet, their products seem to be selling. Papa Murphy’s annual sales in 2004 were $386 M, and in 2005 Papa Murphy’s was the 10th largest pizza company based on sales. And the product offerings of the traditional pizza chains are not much better. Their formulations have also been modified to accommodate machine processing and low cost labor to convert ingredients into doughs and sauces at the commissary and store level. I recently saw a commercial dough formulation for a frozen pizza dough that is delivered to stores that included 16 different ingredients. I identified seven of them as chemical additives, preservatives and conditioners.

So, I’m all for trying to preserve many of the old, more natural ways. It won’t be easy because the forces against it are great and artisan pizza operators have to be able to make a decent living in what is obviously a highly competitive industry. And people have to want the pizzas and be willing to pay for them and even to search them out. Trying to reach this audience won’t be easy, even though recent trends show a growth in the use of high-temperature ovens and Neapolitan-style pizzas. Unfortunately, we already have seen many of these touted as being “artisan” pizzas when, in fact, they are not, at least not by Evelyne’s tentative definition. 

Peter

Offline SLICEofSLOMON

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #17 on: August 14, 2006, 12:22:20 PM »
Hi All,

Well said Peter! As it stands, at this time the pizza industry can be divided into 2 factions: the industrial and the artisanal. Admittedly, the artisinal represents only a small sliver of the market, but the fact that it is growing at a healthy rate says something about the market. This indicates that there are consumers out there who know the difference and seek it out. If there was no support from consumers, artisan pizza makers could not survive.

Part of forming this artisan association is to create awareness with the consumer about what this type of pizza is all about as well as to educate other pizza makers as to how they can produce and market this type of operation. Over the many years I've been involved with the industry, I've always been amazed and horrified that when operators talk about their pizza making activities they sound more like they are describing a car assembly line than preparing and cooking food. I'm glad that there is finally an awareness in the commercial world of independent artisan operations that are viable buisiness models. On the otherhand, I shudder to think what kind of spin on this the industry will end up taking--and it will certainly happen because the industry always rips off the independent. This is yet another reason why an association must be formed to set the standards for artisan pizza that will be recognized by operators and consumers before the chains cheapen and water-down the whole thing.

Offline David

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #18 on: August 14, 2006, 12:23:43 PM »
From a purely personal standpoint, perhaps shared by many on this forum, I favor the idea of trying to preserve the classic approaches to making pizza, whether it is along the lines of what the VPN is trying to do (in theory) or what Evelyne may have in mind. Otherwise, over time the traditional pizzas that were much prized and revered are likely to be eroded or be emasculated to the point where they no longer bear a resemblance to the originals.

Unfortunately, we already have seen many of these touted as being “artisan” pizzas when, in fact, they are not, at least not by Evelyne’s tentative definition. 

Peter


Thank you for "hitting the nail on the head" so well  once more Peter.I can see 'artisan' Pizza joining the ranks of the Jack in the Box Ciabatta that Evelyne mentioned.There is too much money involved IMO for it not to.And one thing that will atract a mover and shaker is $$$, however well intentioned.

 David
                                     
If you're looking for a date... go to the Supermarket.If you're looking for a wife....go to the Farmers market

Offline Pete-zza

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Re: Evelyne, I Need a Favor
« Reply #19 on: August 14, 2006, 02:11:44 PM »
Thank you, Evelyne and David.

I have for some time been aware of the growth in the artisan pizza market, mainly because I have gotten to know the importer of the Caputo flour well and through my periodic conversations with him I have gained some valuable insights into where the artisan side of the industry is heading. In his case, with the Caputo flours, sales have been exploding. Yet, what I found most interesting is that a lot of the recent interest in the Caputo flours is coming from traditional pizza operators. But instead of adapting the flour to the best oven choice, a very high-temperature oven, they want to use their regular deck and conveyor ovens. They also would prefer to just substitute the 00 flours for their regular flours and make no other formulation changes, and no changes to their ovens, oven temperatures, or conveyor oven finger configurations. For them, 00 pizzas would be just another addition to their existing product line. Interestingly, and somewhat surprisingly, initial reports are that the 00 flour can work in these circumstances. And, no doubt, if these efforts succeed, at least some operators are bound to refer to the pizzas as being artisan pizzas.

Another possible "blurring" of what artisan pizzas are may come with the trend toward commercialization of hearth-baked pizzas. I have read that brick and other hearth type ovens are even being considered--and are being field tested--for convenience food stores, especially the larger ones with sit-down facilities where many other gourmet-type products can be offered. Also, retail food stores such as Whole Foods are introducing pizza kiosk-like sections where they are baking artisan type pizzas using ovens such as the Woodstone gas-fired ovens. The more that we see that kind of product extension, the more difficult it becomes to differentiate true artisan products from the imitations. Regrettably, we live in a "follow the money" society where often the best of ideas can suffer for lack of attention. This isn't necessarily a fatal condition, just one rendered more challenging.

Peter