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Offline Bubba Kuhn

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On Pizza and Anthropology
« on: May 10, 2005, 03:58:37 PM »

Pizza is in the flat bread family of great foods.
Made to cook fast in hot shallow ovens or even on heated rocks. Favored by cultures that exist in marginal and arid areas where grain and cooking fuels were scarce.  So simple flour, salt water and fast, hot bake became the order of the day. The birth of pita, pizzas, crackers and so many flat round breads that they are to numerous to mention. The flour can varied from hard wheat or malted barley, to the flour of the garbonzo bean. Stretching from the deserts of the Arabian Peninsula to the African continent thru out Europe and even in the Americas as tortillas and other corn based dough’s. Flat breads are everywhere around the world.
The flat bread came as a culinary necessity
Born from what was readily available as not only food but the fuel needed to cook it as well. Small clay ovens or open fire pits partially covered with a flat stone to heat fired with straw and dung were used to bake, and in many places in the world still are.
So what have we learned here today.
Dough slinging and dung slinging have a long and symbiotic history. Therefore here I will attempt to separate one from the other. The subjective from the definitive as it were.
Any good high gluten flour will work:
Some have differing properties about them giving you a wide choice of finished product based on a formulated flours particular qualities including. Bleached, Unbleached, Bromated or Malted or Enriched or not? This is subjective and left to the pizza maker and his choice of flour.

Mondanko
All Montana (red wheat)
Collins Best (high glut)
Power Flour (high glut)
Atlas Best (high glut)
H&R Bread Flour (high glut)
ADM Pizza Blend (high glut)
Morebread (high glut)
Pillsbury XXXX better for bread (high glut)
KA

Which one is Better or Best is totally subjective.
I have used them all and many other flours as well. They are all workable and will lead to differing results. As always choose a flour to meet your needs and one that works to your advantage. The flour that you like the best is the best and works well for you is the best one.
What About Yeast?
Do sweat the small stuff. I like the new generation of fast rise yeast. Either SAF Instant Yeast (Best), Red Star (Better), Flicshmens (Good But you may want to double it.), will work.  Look for a local micro brewer and see if you can get some fresh cake from them. It will give your dough a signature flavor. From the brewers vats to the dough. Remember cake yeast is a two to three to one replacement for granulated yeast. Good yeast link.
http://www.dianasdesserts.com/index.cfm/fuseaction/bakingtips.breads/Breads.cfm

Pizza Ovens Electric, Gas, Wood or Coal Fired or Dung
If one is looking for historic authenticity then importing Italian cow dung might be in order.
Choices choices choices....... hummm let me see
Should I get an environmental variance permit from the city council so I can burn coal and or wood in an open stack oven. Should I spend the tens of thousands of dollars and put on a stack scrubber and DEQ qualified filters, then apply for a permit  to operated a modified stack release oven burning either coal or wood if you get a dual use designation.  Hummmmm........ let see what’s next

I live in an unregulated area therefore I can dig a pit in my yard and bring in my own pre hardened mud bricks, stack then just so. Then I can rip out by the roots and burn whole trees to heat my oven to cook a pizza. I know no bounds and will go to any length to satisfy my own mighty pizza yen at any cost to the planet. I imagine one can always start their own atomic pile too if it will give you a better crust......

Your home oven set from 475 to 550 degrees and a good pizza stone will make 3 medium 14” inch pizzas in 35 minutes. More pizza then the average large family can eat. And will do it as well as any “hearth oven” will to make Great New York Style Pizza. Not for the Naples comes to New York,  Style Pizza
I would even make an argument that the high temp coal or wood fired ovens do not make a New York Style Pizza. They make Napoli Style Pizza in New York. There is a diffrence. I am an American Who is Proud Of the inginuity that led to the American Pizza Styles. Like New York Stlye Pizza (Street Pizza) which is a degrading term by the by and should not be used unless you are trying to degrade a pizza maker.

American "New York Style Pizza" is nothing to be ashamed of and is in no way inferior to the Napoli Style Pizza made in New York. They are just diffrent.
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Offline MTPIZZA

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #1 on: May 10, 2005, 04:53:09 PM »
Bravo...your insight keeps me reading!...

Offline Nathan

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #2 on: May 10, 2005, 10:13:55 PM »
What is the difference between New York Style and Napoli style then?   :-\
"Pizza with pineapples?  That's a cake."

Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #3 on: May 12, 2005, 07:00:58 PM »
What is the difference between New York Style and Napoli style then?   :-\


Well as we all know by not the new EU and the nation of Italy have recently defined  Pizza Napoletana for us so that part is easy. Here is a link to a web site produced by © The Italian Trade Commission 33 E 67th Street, New York, NY 10021
http://www.italianmade.com/

Pizza Napoli: for that definition click or paste http://www.italianmade.com/recipes/recipe417.cfm

Napoli style Pizza Dough Recipe
9 oz. white flour
2 oz. brewers or compressed yeast
1 pinch salt
water, as needed
Click or paste  http://www.italianmade.com/recipes/recipe112.cfm  For more info.

This is the basis that the high temp flash cooking pizza places that seem to dominate this board are based on.
Places that sprung from the work of the originals like Patsy Lancieri. the man credited with opening the first pizzeria in America, Lombardi's, in 1905.

Now back to the anthropology aspect.  In 1905 fire wood in New York City would have been a very impractical fuel to fire an oven electricity was still a newfangled thing and gas was used primarily for lighting

This is the basis that the high temp flash cooking pizza places that seem to dominate this board are based on brought by the Italian immigration into New York.
Places that sprung from the work of the original Gennaro Lombardi. Credited with opening the first pizzeria in America, Lombardi's, in 1905 and teaching the first generation of American pizza makers as an inadvertent act during the course of doing business and training select employees. I wonder if Gennaro Lombardi ever made pizza in Italy or recreated his techniques and recipes from memories and intuition or what. I know he was a grocery first and pizza added as a sideline to help make ends meet. Anybody know if he had any prior culinary experience from home?
Cool links for reference.
http://lombardisoriginalpizza.com/pages/2/index.htm
http://pizzatoday.com/features_articles.shtml?article=ODkyc3VwZXI4ODlzZWNyZXQ4OTY=
http://www.grimaldis.com/greatpizza.htm


Now back to the anthropology aspect.  In 1905 fire wood in New York City would have been a very impractical fuel to fire an oven electricity was still a newfangled thing and gas was used primarily for lighting. Most of the infrastructure that was needed to deliver industrial utilities hardly existed yet.
http://www.ieee-virtual-museum.org/collection/event.php?id=3456876&lid=1

Remember to that pizza was an unproved product that had an appeal to a small local population of immigrant workers who had little to spend and needed a good value for there hard earned dollar. I'll bet the use of coal to fire the the ovens were more the result of finance needs then culinary discretion.

The cost of acquiring an older out going technology with an plentiful cheap fuel supply coal. At that time coal could be gathered along the train track due to spillage if you knew where to look. Enough to fire a pizza oven? I do not know but my family tells stories of gathered coal from the rail lines in burlap bags.

As opposed to very expensive firewood or the new unproved and more expensive electric that was just coming on line at the time. Commercial gas was also more available now but was still less trusted. As a business man who has stared many new places this is a no brainer. Use coal or forget it. You'll never make a buck. Remember kids these are people trying to feed their kids and make a better life. No trying to make some esoteric culinary point about a subtle difference in what is right or not coal, wood, gas, electric or trying to hold to any particular culinary heritage. Question is what sells? How much did it cost to make? and how much did it bring in, was and still is the bottom line on the day to day level of basic decision making.

Now I know from experience that coal burns hotter, longer, and more consistently then wood.
Therefore the original coal oven built in 1905 was hotter then the traditional wood ovens of Napoli. If the coal fire was tended and banked to burn slower and cooler to achieve the wood like temp you would have a sooting problem in an oven that does not use a firebox separated from the cooking chamber and burns on the deck. Sooting is an issue (less with wood and more with coal) with this type of oven and high heat is the solution.

So there we have it Lombardi's opened in little Italy as a grocery store in 1897 and added pizza to help make ends meet.
Eight years latter it grew legs and was established as the first pizzeria in America in 1905 with New York's issuance of the mercantile license.  Napoli comes to New York running a little hotter oven then normal and little Italy is very happy.

Please note that according to the world authority on Pizza Napoletana an oven temp of 650 degrees in needed and a cooking time of several minuets is called for.
http://www.italianmade.com/recipes/recipe417.cfm

Now lets jump ahead to see what the results of Gennaro Lombardi's introduction of Pizza Napoletana to America at large was.
So as coal is becomes fading technology Pizza is fast growing in popularity. Faster then one can find those who know how to pile brick to make a coal oven. So up steps American Ingenuity giving birth to a new and different form of pizza production extracted from the founding work of the old coal class oven and methods given to us by Master Gennaro Lombardi.
These techniques do not require the intense heat of a coal driven oven that was unaquireable therefor bringing pizza to far more people. The modifications are really only the addition of two ingredient. Oil and Sugar. Oil to help cook the flour in the lower temp baking process. An easily attainable 550 degrees. The sugar was not to sweeten the dough but to help feed the yeast and get it off to a good start.

These pizzas will cook in 7 or 8 minuets for a 16 inch pie as opposed to 4 minutes in a 650 to 700 degree wood oven or 1 to two minutes an 800 to 1000 degree coal fire oven.

The longer cooking time now allows for toppings to be added to a pizza as it now has time to cook the toppings with the pizza. In the coal oven shops toppings are scant and few. As the format was not intended for and does not lend its self well to the use of toppings. Some pepperoni came along with sausage, onion, peppers, olives or mushrooms. Usually server one topping or the other seldom ordered in combination with each other. The phenomenon of pizzas with lots of toppings extra cheese and all the other common features we know today grew as the pizza move out of its own neighborhood and got main streamed into the American market.

Interesting also it the hand spinning of the dough in not Italian. Until recently most makers in Italy used a rolling pin or would "pull" the dough from a ball. That is not an Italian thing at all but is again a New York thing born of the need for fast production. American Ingenuity. I was once solicited to go to Italy and teach some dough spinning there.
As the tourist were disappointed to find that no one threw the pizza dough like in the movies and on TV.
These are American movies an TV shows showing New York Style Pizza Making.
Disappointed tourist are nobody’s friends so they have recently come to adopted using these methods of dough stretching.

Interested in how to get a smoke flavor in a pizza from a home oven? Let me know. Gotta go and open the shop now.
Sorry for the lag in replying to your post.
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Offline abatardi

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #4 on: May 12, 2005, 07:52:01 PM »
Interested in how to get a smoke flavor in a pizza from a home oven? Let me know.

Yes, very interested!

- Aaron
Make me a bicycle CLOWN!

Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #5 on: May 12, 2005, 09:12:50 PM »
Get your favorite wood for smoking. Buy it from a supplier or just off the shelf from you BBQ section at the grocers.
Not a saw dust type but chips for smoking. 

Now get a low profile can like a tuna fish can remove the lable and wash it out.
Put your wood chips in this and place it on your stove top with a medium heat to start it smoking and place it in the pre heated oven a few minuets before you cook your pizza. The oven should be hot enough to keep the smudge going as the pizza cooks staining the pizza with a smokey flavor.
Keep a saucer or some infamable cover handy to place over the smudge pot in case of flareups.
There realy should not be any but just in case.
There you have it a fast and slick smoke method for your pizza.
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2005, 05:54:01 AM »
Buba

A very interesting post, but all the quotes from italian trade.com are very approximate. The correct temperature to cook a pizza napoletana is way above 650 degree, and in fact at the correct temperature, the pizza can cook in a measured average of 45 seconds. There is not a coal oven I have seen in NYC that was close to that (Lombardi, Totonno's, John's, Grimaldi).

These recipes you have mentioned are not intended for professional use, but for home approximation. Searching on the internet only will not give you the appropriate background. You need to visit and see with your eyes.

Ciao

Marco

Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #7 on: May 17, 2005, 08:52:14 PM »
Buba

A very interesting post, but all the quotes from italian trade.com are very approximate. The correct temperature to cook a pizza napoletana is way above 650 degree, and in fact at the correct temperature, the pizza can cook in a measured average of 45 seconds. There is not a coal oven I have seen in NYC that was close to that (Lombardi, Totonno's, John's, Grimaldi).

These recipes you have mentioned are not intended for professional use, but for home approximation. Searching on the internet only will not give you the appropriate background. You need to visit and see with your eyes.

Ciao

Marco


Marco
Sorry for the late reply. The shop was very busy this weekend and I just found the time to answer.

You know I find the subject of pizza in Italy very interesting. I have been working the trade since I was eleven years old. I'm now fifty. Not just pizza but the food service industry in general.

From four star Mobil rated Italian dinner houses to remote site catering in exotic locations. I was even chef for the Alaskan rail road for a season. A great job by the way.

Now I have done a lot of work in other then standard kitchen configurations. I have used all sorts of stoves, ovens and cooking fuels like wood, coal, diesel, propane high and low pressure, white gas pressure stoves, standard electric and in one case the exhaust manifolds on the engine of a tug boat. My impression is that it is much harder to get the heat out of wood that you can coal and if it is not just the right wood properly seasoned (not salt and peppered) in just the right stove configured with just the right draft it is very hard to get those kind of temps with wood. With wood those temps are an exception as opposed to a rule with wood.

Anyway for years when moving between pizza shops and classic Italian dinner houses the dinner houses generally did not serve pizza and looked down their nose at it as a quick snack food and not really a part of Classic Italian Cuisine. I got this lecture from more then one owner when I brought up the Idea of menu expansion by adding pizza.

Then in 1974 I got the opportunity to travel to Italy. I spent some time in Roma, Napoli, and some in Genoa. And much to my surprise Pizza was very hard to find and rarely available.
Wood ovens were in use but not as often as gas fired ovens and so were rolling pin. I never saw any coal used to heat the ovens. The dough was kept on a large table yeast working thru out the day and dough being punched down now and then to keep control.  The dough were cut from it as needed thru out the day and pressed out dressed and cooked. Basically a thicker Sicilian style was more common.......  So I went to Italy thinking pizza was a popular native food and found out that at that time was but a sideline intermittently available.

With the rise of pizza popularity in the USA and the tourist showing up in Italy looking for "Pizza Original" help refuel the pizza trade in Italy and with the profit potential being undeniable because it draws tourist only then did the DOC really become interested in its redheaded stepchild.

So what burns my butt is this. That Super High Temp pizza and the hand spun techniques are far more American then Italian.

Bet you that in 1730 the average oven was wood fired communal baking oven operating at standard baking temps more like the 350 to 550 range that is most common. Because when an oven was fired up at that time the oven and firing was used to bake, roast, and stew all at the same time. Especially if there was a banquet or celebration needing to be prepared and served. None of which requires a heating temp that you are saying was used.

Remember to that excessive heat will crack the hearth stones in an oven of that period as the art and industrial application of making refractory bricks for oven construction was yet to be used. Regular brick and slow firing was used to establish an oven never mind tempering the hearth stones for the deck. They were  slabs of imported slate at that time and had to me heated slowly and over time so they won’t crack. Excessive and uneven heat will crack a slate and a broken hearth turns the oven into just another pile of bricks.

In 1730 ovens were maybe one to a town and very precious. I really doubt they would squander such a valuable resource by over firing it and using the excessive amount of fuel to do so. It would be an excessive in stupidity. You do realize that just to harvest and dry the wood for an oven of that type takes a up to year in curing time? That way the wood is seasoned and able to produce a consistent temp. So though I do not doubt that a thing similar to a modern day pizza may have been thrown together at that time and cooked in a wood fired oven (everything was then). It has little to do with the high temp coal oven New York Style Pizza that put the Cuisine on the Culinary map.

So high temp ovens and large pies are an AMERICAN Culinary event and have very little to do with Napoli or Italy if the truth is told. It is an outgrowth of the Lombardi coal oven becouse wood was not avaliabe.
 Not becouse they used coal in Napoli.

I can work out the thermodynamics to get a pie to cook in thirty seconds if I needed, But what is the point. There is no culinary gain. The only thing that comes to mind is try to satisfy a very fast paced slice market. Like say in NEW YORK AT LUNCH as opposed to the two glasses of wine slow paced lunch Napoli is so famous for.

Do not get me wrong you can force heat an oven to high temp with wood. This is especially do-able in these modern times. It just is not likely that back in the day anyone did as it destroys the oven and slate. Remember there was no refractory trade (special bricks for ovens and higher temp needs) at the time making ceramic oven brick and deck tile was not done and very high temps meant that number of your bricks were likely to explode and the oven could collapse.. yes even if they were pre fired in a bulk brick kiln before you built the oven. So I'm thinking that the High Temp and the Pizza Napoletana of 1730 are more myth then fact.

So Marco are you practicing and if so where. You invite me to see for myself. Where would I go and who would I ask for as I may be heading east soon.
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #8 on: May 18, 2005, 05:42:40 AM »
Buba you are making a lot of assumption. It is true that pizzeria are a Neapolitan thing, but in the 70's just in Naples you could count about 700 pizzerias (it was not a rarity).

Second, you loose your bet, because Naples in 1730 was one of the biggest city in Europe, bigger then London and Second to Paris, and there were not communal oven in a metropolis. Communal ovens were from rural areas. The oven would be fired up to bake pizza, and this was done still with the flame inside. Bread, roast and other thing would be baked later just with the ashes. However, in Naples was already common another type of home oven to bake those things, and the first "laboratories"-pizzeria (1730-1830) would make just pizza all day that would be then sold by street wanders.

In Naples nobody uses a rolling pin. The pizza is "slapped between hands, and the marble working bench.

You said that there is no gain in cooking a pizza in 30 seconds? What about the fact of not stressing the ingredient up and not drying them out? what about cooked tomatoes, yet still fresh tasting? what about cooked oil, yet not fried? what about cooked dough, yet still soft and not crackers????? What about cooked mozzarella, yet not burnt off????/?


The oven theory? Ask the fellow members that have seen a Neapolitan oven in operation (e.g. Da Michele's).

In Naples in 1780 there were approximately  80 laboratory-pizzeria (..one communal oven????), of which 23 become sit-in pizzerias. And I am not including the bread bakeries...
There is one family of oven builders in Naples (the name is Agliarulo) that have been making that type of oven for generations, since '700. the Sorrento floor, get consumed (for the volume of pizza baked) over 5-6 years, and need replacing, but it does not crack. And sorry, I forgot to tell you, that those oven floors are still made by hand in the same way they were made 300 years ago (Not industrial methods, you can visit the Aversa furnace in Maiano, near Sorrento). The special clay compound of the area (containing high alumina, volcanic ashes and low iron) made this bricks special even at the time. no explosion of this kind, and all the detailed account of the time talk about a very quickly cooked pizza.
The Doc regulation, was initially promoted in 1984 against the pizzeria in the north of Italy, which were advertising as "Neapolitan" and then were cooking at lower temperature (with the wrong type of oven) and serving crackers...

High heat pizza, is definitely a Neapolitan thing, the NY coal oven was a secondary alternative. I am pretty sure that Lombardi had never done a pizza in Naples, and thus had not an idea on how to build a proper oven. The flying dough thing, may surely be American. That is your credit.

I am working as a consultant at the moment, so not really operating, but you can visit Da Michele in Naples (where I have learned a lot) and see with yours eyes what I am talking about.

I have a great respect for your working experience, but I really do not like un-informative comment on a subject that I have researched extensively..

Ciao




Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #9 on: May 18, 2005, 08:09:44 AM »
Hey Marco!
I am heading east, but not that far east so the trip to Naples will have to keep for now.
My experiences are my own and am very sorry that I made little contact with the pizza community while in Italy.
I will probably always have some remorse about that, the more I learn about what I missed. 700 pizza places huh?
Sometimes I think I can fall head first into a bucket of diamonds and come up with s**t in my ears.
I thank you for the clinic on the history of the pizza ovens of Naples and the rare clay used for the Sorrento floor.
Also the birth place of water proof "Portland"cement as I recall because of the unique properties of the local silica.

You have answered some nagging questions for me thanks.
I never mind getting my ears pinned back by a superior body of knowladge.

Bubba
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Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2005, 05:04:30 PM »
I am not English mother tongue, so I am not sure if you are trying to use some sort of Humor...

Anyway, I would like to add to what already said in the previous post that:

In Naples '700, they were already making porcelain (also known as china here in London), which needs temperature well above the one used for any pizza.

I think you are referring to hydraulic lime and not to Portland cement. This was discovered  by the Romans at Pozzuoli near Naples, thanks to a combination of lime with the silicates of the local "pozzolana" sand.

Last year they have counted 1,500 wood burning oven pizzeria in Naples alone... so do not be surprised by 700 circa in the 70's. At that time my family use to live in a brand new development in Naples which could count already 4 pizzeria...

In Naples pizza is a way of life. People make breakfast with a full size 12" pizza at 0800 am (not only a slice...)

Offline Bubba Kuhn

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Re: On Pizza and Anthropology
« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2005, 06:45:13 PM »
Yes some humor and respect to a greater knowladge.
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