Spectacular as always Omid. I have a quick question related to a comment you have made in the past about the Neapolitan wallet. A google search finds me no references like this. A search here only finds two others: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,1258.msg65065.html#msg65065
Can you tell us any more from your knowledge? Thanks always.
Dear Jet_deck, my gratitudes!
As far as I know, the term "Neapolitan wallet" is intimately associated with the peculiar "tenderness" of Neapolitan pizza crust1
and cornicione, and it can be a tendentious subject. It is rooted in the Neapolitan tradition which, like many traditional values, is of obscure genesis. Over the years, I have heard many accounts or theories as to the origin of Neapolitans favoring tender pizza crusts. Some of them are as follows:
•They like tender pizza crust because in the dawn of pizza they had to make the oven temperature intense to compensate for the lack of proper fermentation which was not uncommon in those days.
• . . . because it used to be a food sold mainly by the street peddlers who naturally could not provide tables, plates, forks, and knives.
• . . . because it used to be a street food meant to be eaten while standing or walking, without the benefits of tables, plates, and utensils.
• . . . because that is how they baked their flat breads before the advent of pizza.
• . . . because that is how all the Mediterraneans enjoy their flat breads.
• . . . because it helps digestion and does not burden the stomach.
Whatever the case might be, the fact remains that Neapolitans generally like their pizza crusts tender enough not to break apart when they are folded like a book (i.e., "libretto") or a wallet (i.e., "portafoglio"). The 2004 Disciplinare
itself is a testimony to this fact:
"La 'Pizza Napoletana' . . . nel suo insieme sarà morbida, elastica, facilmente piegabile a 'libretto'
(Per the Italian version)
"'Pizza Napoletana' . . . should be soft, elastic, and easily foldable into a 'booklet'
(Per the translated version)
Several years ago, I heard that a subtle dichotomy had been developing in Naples between those pizzaioli for whom the tenderness of pizza crust was of fundamental value (or even canonical) and those for whom the tenderness was of lesser value. Perhaps, this chasm is signified in the Washington Post article, entitled "Naples, by Pizza Possessed", printed on September 25, 2002. The article depicts the story of a pizza contest in Naples:
"The pizzaiuolo, the pizzamaker, shuffled his feet nervously as he stood by the stern judge. He was defending his pizza’s crust—it was crunchy. Unfortunately for the contestant, crunchy is a no-no in the heartland of pizza. ‘Stupid move,’ the judge said tersely. ‘Why enter a contest of Neapolitan pizza if you can’t make one the right way?’ A hard crust may be something consumers across the globe associate with 21st-century pizza, but here crackle is unthinkable. Chewy is also out. Crust is not even a proper description for the billowy circumference of pizza.
Also, folding a pizza napoletana into a portafoglio or libretto is a traditional manner of consuming the product, like a sandwich, without the aid of any utensils. (President Clinton was served a portafoglio by pizzaiolo Ernesto Cacialli back in 1994: http://www.pizzanapoletana.org/viewnews_eng.php?n=128
.) Even with the advent of full-blown pizzerias, pizzas were reportedly served right on marble tables—no plates! Check out the following amazing videos:
(See time-marks 1:44 to 2:11)
(See time-marks 1:25 to 1:42 & 4:40 to 5:14)
Upon watching the tango scene in the movie "Frida" with a Neapolitan friend of mine some years ago, he commented, "Eating pizza napoletana is like dancing tango
!" Immediately, I thought to myself, "What a powerful comparison?" Verily, eating Neapolitan pizza is akin to dancing tango with an impassioned woman whose body contour gracefully co-adapts
to your movements. You bend her, but she won't break!!!
1. "Crust" may be deemed by Neapolitan pizzaioli as a misapplication of the concept since it is, by definition, hard, dry, and crisp.