Dear DannyG and Thezaman, every quest begins with a quest-ion! In one of the posts above, I was kindly asked, “Please fill in the blanks on your hydration methods, mixing methods etc. You have a bunch of information crazed pizza makers wanting as much information on pizza as we can get.” Please, forgive me, but doing so would defeat a vital thesis of my opening post in this thread:
● “Recipes and techniques do not make pizzas; they are merely instrumental in the act of creation.”
● “In making dough, often we implement steps for which we have no explanations other than ‘that’s what everybody else does’ or ‘that’s what I have been told.’”
● “Dare to think for yourself.”
● “In learning anything, always aim to understand the underlying principles as opposed to . . . the content [or ‘information’]. . . . if you know the principles, then you can always create your own content [i.e., recipes and techniques].”
● “A recipe is only half of the story! . . . ‘The map is not the territory’.”
● “The pizzaioli, prior to World War I, respected ‘time’ and the virtues of ‘patience’ and ‘excellence’—virtues that require time and reflection in order to be cultivated.”
● “As man works on nature outside himself and changes it, he changes at the same time his own nature.”
● Most important of all, let the Socratic maxim echo through your ears, "True wisdom consists in knowing that you know nothing." If one assumes that she or he knows everything, then she or her is not likely to question her or his own assumptions. Question everything; take nothing for granted!
Verily, my posts are primarily about "philosophy" of pizza than making pizza, for I believe it is more important, initially, to learn the principles of making Neapolitan dough first. The word “philosophy” itself may give us a clue as to what kind of distinctive activity we are talking about here. The ancient Greek word φιλοσοφ ί α (philosophia) is linguistically composed of two words: φιλο (philo, meaning “love”, which some say is an ingredient in making pizza) and σοφία (sophia, meaning “wisdom”). Judging purely by the word itself, philosophy seems to imply a “love” that entails “wisdom” as its object, or a “love” in quest for “wisdom”. And, in turn, “wisdom” implies action, activity, or doing something, such as figuring out how to make pizza. (What would be the value of wisdom that is not actuated or is not thrown into the world?) Yet, philosophy is more than that. It is also an activity that entails critical and reflective thinking, and evaluation of the thinking—in, for example, making dough! And, in doing so we may realize that we need to learn how to make love (sophia) all over again and train our eyes for what is most distant! May St. Abate be with you!