Author Topic: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?  (Read 4915 times)

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Online TXCraig1

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Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« on: July 22, 2013, 04:22:10 PM »
The question I’m posing is, does Neapolitan pizza really need to be made with “00” flour to be correctly called “Neapolitan?”

Jeff started a predictable discussion at Slice recently with this comment “By definition Neapolitan pizza must be made with 00 flour.” http://slice.seriouseats.com/archives/2013/07/reviews-neapolitan-pizza-washington-dc-ettos.html?ref=title

And, Tom recently highlighted Reinhart’s “neo-Neapolitan” dough which Reinhart says “What makes this Neo-Neapolitan is that I use American bread flour instead of Italian -00- flour.” http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,26370.msg267613.html#msg267613

The first thing I’d point out for sake of correctness – as I see it written incorrectly quite often –  is that it’s “00” as in zero zero – not “OO,” as in the letter O twice, but that’s not the point of the post. Rather, I’m wondering if it’s necessarily wrong to call pizza made with something other than “00” flour Neapolitan as some staunchly contend?

I’m going to take a contrarian position and say it’s not automatically wrong to do so with a single caveat. If you’re going to call your pie “VPN Neapolitan” or “Pizza Napoletana STG or TSG” or something like that, then yes, it would need to employ “00” flour (and not just any “00” flour necessarily, but one that meets the proper specs – such as those required for the STG protection: http://eur-lex.europa.eu/LexUriServ/LexUriServ.do?uri=OJ:L:2010:034:0007:01:IT:HTML)

I agree that consumers and critics alike know little, if anything about Neapolitan pizza. I also agree that much of the confusion and misinformation stems from pizzerias selling pies that are not Neapolitan (for any number of reasons) while calling them Neapolitan. To make matters worse, reviews of various “Neapolitan” pies – professional, Yelp!, or otherwise – often criticize generally authentic Neapolitan pies for their traditional Neapolitan features – such as a soft, wet center or sparse toppings – while often holding up pathetic examples, that in no way represent NP, as good or even worse, authentic.

My position is that the finished pie itself is what should be the subject of judgment – not the individual components. I’m not here to define what is and is not Neapolitan – in some ways, I see it like Justice Stewart’s famous quote on obscenity in his concurring opinion in Jacobellis v. Ohio – that it’s hard to define, “but I know it when I see it.” The problem is not folks using a flour other than “00” – or not using DOP SM’s for that matter – but rather that most people (including those that should) don’t know it when they see it.

If I can make a better Neapolitan pizza with a non-“00” flour or non-DOP tomatoes, I don’t help anyone by making an inferior product that uses traditional ingredients. Nor does using traditional ingredients do anything to assure a quality Neapolitan pizza. In fact, it may make things worse in some cases as the business may believe that the simple act of doing so will result in Neapolitan pizza. I can think of at least one place off the top of my head where this is true – and they have received some meaningful acclaim on their very sub-par pies that bear little in common with my view of Neapolitan pizza. I believe the key to making Neapolitan pizza is not the ingredients* per se, but rather that the person responsible for the pies must know Neapolitan pizza when s/he sees it and how to get there by whatever means they choose.

*Of course this has limits, and they are largely obvious. Neapolitan pizza can never be made with whole wheat flour, for example, as it would change the entire character of the pie. (I will point out that the restaurant noted in the Slice article cited above uses house milled whole wheat flour, but they do not, as far as I can tell, claim to be Neapolitan).

Thoughts?

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Online mkevenson

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2013, 04:43:28 PM »
Craig, bottom line is definition. As you pointed out, a strict interpretation of Italian regs requires a specific flour type. Looser interpretations are subject to what definitions you are using.
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Offline italdream

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2013, 05:06:58 PM »

I don’t help anyone by making an inferior product that uses traditional ingredients. Nor does using traditional ingredients do anything to assure a quality Neapolitan pizza. In fact, it may make things worse in some cases as the business may believe that the simple act of doing so will result in Neapolitan pizza.

Interesting question. To begin, I think that your statement above is absolutely correct.

However, I am for the formalistic approach  on this one. What does the name Neapolitan mean? It means from Naples, or of Naples. In this case, it refers to a specific type of pizza (arguably the only original type of pizza) that originated in Naples, meets certain production standards etc. (and that here we have all come to appreciate).

Living almost thirty years in Naples (plus numerous trips afterward) I never had a pizza that was not done with 00 flour. Until 15 years ago, I believe that Italian households did not even know anything other than 00 flour. Things have changed in recent years but that is still largely true.

So my answer is no: you cannot have a Neapolitan pizza without having 00 flour. Not until, certain iconic (and product-defining) pizzerias in Naples begin making non 00 pies and serve them as an acceptable variation of the original. Perhaps not Michele since they are still on the ultra purist binary definition of pizza as margherita/marinara. But Di Matteo, Sorbillo, Presidente et al.

On a final note, can you improve the product by using non 00 flour? Perhaps you could, who knows?!? You are TXCraig1 after all  ;) but please define improving first. And to be fair to the name, do not call it Neapolitan. Call something else. Otherwise, the risk is that it might evolve into something like Frank Pepe's pizza, that still uses the denomination "pizza napoletana" but is everything but napoletana. Tasty, absolutely, Neapolitan, hardly so.

Online TXCraig1

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2013, 05:28:44 PM »
Is a FORD a Ford if you use a Chevy paint?

I see this as a different question altogether. This is more like (yet still fundamentally different) asking if a pizza that is unquestionably a Neapolitan Margherita is still Neapolitan if you put sausage on it? I'd say yes (i.e. the Ford is still a Ford even with Chevy paint).

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Is a Chevy a Chevy if you don't use Champion spark plugs?

This is along the lines of the question I'm asking. It's a Chevy in every other way except I'm using spark plugs that are equal or better to Champion. Is it still a Chevy? I says yes.
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Offline italdream

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2013, 05:30:41 PM »
This is along the lines of the question I'm asking. It's a Chevy in every other way except I'm using spark plugs that are equal or better to Champion. Is it still a Chevy? I says yes.

Com'on Craig, flour is more like the material used for the frame of the car not the spark plugs. Can you have a Porsche 911 made of fiberglass? No. That would be a Vette, not a Porsche.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 05:32:41 PM by italdream »

Online TXCraig1

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2013, 05:38:48 PM »
So my answer is no: you cannot have a Neapolitan pizza without having 00 flour.

So if I made you two pies, one with "00" and one without, and neither you nor anyone else could tell me which was which, you would still say that one is not Neapolitan even though you could not tell me which pie it is? How does that make sense?

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On a final note, can you improve the product by using non "00" flour? Perhaps you could, who knows?!? You are TXCraig1 after all  ;) but please define improving first. And to be fair to the name, do not call it Neapolitan. Call something else. Otherwise, the risk is that it might evolve into something like Frank Pepe's pizza, that still uses the denomination "pizza napoletana" but is everything but napoletana. Tasty, absolutely, Neapolitan, hardly so.

I'm not talking about improving on Neapolitan pizza or changing its traditional characteristics in any way. I'm not talking about anything like Frank Pepe's. I'm talking about making the best Neapolitan pie I can - with the traditional appearance and other sensory qualities. Let's say for the sake of argument that I can do this with a non"00" flour. If you say I must use "00" flour, are you not also saying that there is an artificial cap on the quality of "Neapolitan" pizza?
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Online TXCraig1

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2013, 05:46:34 PM »
Com'on Craig, flour is more like the material used for the frame of the car not the spark plugs. Can you have a Porsche 911 made of fiberglass? No. That would be a Vette, not a Porsche.

It wasn't my analogy. I was just responding to it.

Your Porsche analogy is not applicable to my question. You can't compare a style of pizza with a brand. Only Porsche can build a 911 and call it a 911, so what they say in Stuttgart goes. Period. Anyone can build a Neapolitan pizza. Like I said above - if you call it "VPN Neapolitan" or "Neapolitan STG" then it needs to be made with "00" - this scenario is much closer to your Porsche analogy.
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Offline dhorst

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2013, 05:50:33 PM »
Okay, so I'll leave the specific car analogies out of this--went to a car museum yesterday for four hours and I'm sick of motor head talk.  I will say though, the way a car handles and the performance is more important to me than how "authentic" it is.  I like to drive.  The same thing could be said about how I feel about cooking.  I like to play, and if I find an ingredient that makes a dish soar but is not traditional, I really don't care.  I'm going to use it.  I'd hate to miss out on something truly wonderful because of conforming to what others deem as correct.  That would stifle me.
Peter and I had an interesting conversation regarding how passionate people get about the precision of description of styles of pizza, etc. at the Summit.  I believe he said that Neapolitan style, would be a way of qualifying it without having to use all of the VPN standards.  I think another way of putting it would be Neapolitan Inspired.  After all imitation is a form of flattery.  Above all, the way it tastes is what matters most to me.

An aside regarding 00 vs. OO, Craig, I agree.  I do wonder though how you feel about the term aught being used for zero, simply because I used to hear it all the time in the gun department where I used to work.  :-D  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Names_for_the_number_0_in_English

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2013, 06:01:44 PM »
Peter and I had an interesting conversation regarding how passionate people get about the precision of description of styles of pizza, etc. at the Summit.  I believe he said that Neapolitan style, would be a way of qualifying it without having to use all of the VPN standards.  I think another way of putting it would be Neapolitan Inspired.  After all imitation is a form of flattery.  Above all, the way it tastes is what matters most to me.

This makes me think of one of my favorite Simpson's quotes:

Lisa Simpson: "Anything that's the 'something' of the 'something' isn't really the 'anything' of 'anything'.

When I make a Margherita, I'm trying to make the best Neapolitan pie I can make; I'm not trying to be "Neapolitan inspired" or "Neapolitan-style" or anything except Neapolitan. I'm not trying to flatter through imitation. I'm trying to respect by constantly trying to achieve perfection. When I put pepperoni on it, then It's probably appropriate to call it "Neapolitan-style" or the like.  ;D
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Offline italdream

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2013, 06:08:52 PM »
This discussion is getting interesting.

So if I made you two pies, one with "00" and one without, and neither you nor anyone else could tell me which was which, you would still say that one is not Neapolitan even though you could not tell me which pie it is? How does that make sense?

Borrowing the car metaphor, you have two Ferraris, one is a kit car (better material, better aerodynamics etc.) and the other one is original, you cannot tell them apart but can only call one a Ferrari.

Different metaphor, you have two twins John and Joe, separated at birth and raised in two different cities of the same country. Identical in all in terms of appearance, cannot tell them apart just looking at them, still they are different and have different names.

Naming is naming, I am not saying you can't do it, just call it the NapolAmerican. Call it Neopolitan.

I'm talking about making the best Neapolitan pie I can - with the traditional appearance and other sensory qualities. Let's say for the sake of argument that I can do this with a non"00" flour. If you say I must use "00" flour, are you not also saying that there is an artificial cap on the quality of "Neapolitan" pizza?

Yes and no. I am saying that it is not for you and me (for me not for sure, as I would not be capable anyway) to push the "artificial cap" and still call it Neapolitan. It is for the pizzerias (and to some degree the consumers) in Naples.
You could theoretically still do it, but would have to embark in an incredible campaign via marketing, word of mouth, convincing other trend setters etc. to the point that pizzerias and consumers in Naples would eventually accept it as the new standards or a better variation of the original. Then you could call it Neapolitan.
Until then, it would be TXCraig1 variation of Neapolitan pizza, which I am sure would be very good.

This is not a suggestion to not experiment. This is my view as to what it would take in order to tell people with a straight face that Neapolitan pizza is better done with non 00 flour. Me and some other people here would perhaps get easily convinced. But  to be correctly called “Neapolitan", that would be the least IMHO.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 06:13:46 PM by italdream »


Offline dhorst

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2013, 06:26:25 PM »
This makes me think of one of my favorite Simpson's quotes:

Lisa Simpson: "Anything that's the 'something' of the 'something' isn't really the 'anything' of 'anything'.

When I make a Margherita, I'm trying to make the best Neapolitan pie I can make; I'm not trying to be "Neapolitan inspired" or "Neapolitan-style" or anything except Neapolitan. I'm not trying to flatter through imitation. I'm trying to respect by constantly trying to achieve perfection. When I put pepperoni on it, then It's probably appropriate to call it "Neapolitan-style" or the like.  ;D

Great Simpson's reference. 
I understand what you're saying.  So, you are willing to call it Neapolitan if you have the best Neapolitan results even with out using Caputo 00 and instead using the GM flour that you were experimenting with at the Summit, correct?  Or not using SM tomatoes, if you find ones that you find superior in flavor, yes? 
Would you consider your Diana Margherita to be Neapolitan despite the Aleppo and Calabrian chili oil?

Obviously I'm a rule breaker.   :-D
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 06:35:51 PM by dhorst »

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2013, 06:44:44 PM »
This discussion is getting interesting.

Borrowing the car metaphor, you have two Ferraris, one is a kit car (better material, better aerodynamics etc.) and the other one is original, you cannot tell them apart but can only call one a Ferrari.

Different metaphor, you have two twins John and Joe, separated at birth and raised in two different cities of the same country. Identical in all in terms of appearance, cannot tell them apart just looking at them, still they are different and have different names.

But I could tell the two cars apart unless you forged all the Ferrari markings on the body, engine, VIN#, etc. I don’t see the Ferrari metaphor as being applicable - you are talking about a forgery - deliberately calling something a Ferrari when you know that by any objective standard it is not. And why would you do it unless you were trying to co-opt (steal) value by using the Ferrari name? I’m not suggesting calling the pizza Neapolitan because it increases the value but rather because it is the objective. If your objective is to build a Ferrari from the ground up, the ethical path is to go to work for Ferrari first.

I have no idea what you are trying to say with the twins metaphor? I can show you thousands of things that are identical but with different names. What does it have to do with the discussion at hand???

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Yes and no. I am saying that it is not for you and me (for me not for sure, as I would not be capable anyway) to push the "artificial cap" and still call it Neapolitan. It is for the pizzerias (and to some degree the consumers) in Naples.
You could theoretically still do it, but would have to embark in an incredible campaign via marketing, word of mouth, convincing other trend setters etc. to the point that pizzerias and consumers in Naples would eventually accept it as the new standards or a better variation of the original. Then you could call it Neapolitan.
Until then, it would be TXCraig1 variation of Neapolitan pizza, which I am sure would be very good.

This is not a suggestion to not experiment. This is my view as to what it would take in order to tell people with a straight face that Neapolitan pizza is better done with non 00 flour. Me and some other people here would perhaps get easily convinced. But  to be correctly called “Neapolitan", that would be the least IMHO.

Again, I’m not really sure where you are going with this. I think you may be confused about what I’m saying. Let me try it like this: say I make two pies that neither you nor anyone else can tell are made with “00” or non-“00” flour. One, the better of the two, is made with non-“00” flour – better texture – softer – perfect paper thin outer crust – exactly what you would want in a Neapolitan pizza. If I want to call my pizza Neapolitan, you’re saying I need to make the lower quality pie even though you 1) can’t tell it’s made with a non-“00” flour and 2) better than the pie that is. This is what I mean by an artificial cap on quality.

I’m also not saying that you can’t make a better pie with “00”, and I’m not talking about changing any paradigms. I’m only talking about the specific person making the pies – not in general. Case in point – I can make a better Nepolitan pie with Cento Italian Tomatoes which may or may not be San Marzano and certainly are not DOP. This is true for me because they are better than any of the DOP SM’s that I have available. It wouldn’t surprise me if other people can get better DOP SM’s than I can here in Houston, and if they are the best available, they may want to use them. Should they be able to make a better Neapolitan pie than me simply because they have a better DOP SM available to them? Should they be able to make their best Neapolitan pie when I can’t because their best tomato is a DOP SM and mine is not? How does that help anyone?
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Online TXCraig1

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2013, 06:53:02 PM »
Great Simpson's reference. 
I understand what you're saying.  So, you are willing to call it Neapolitan if you have the best Neapolitan results even with out using Caputo 00 and instead using the GM flour that you were experimenting with at the Summit, correct?  Or not using SM tomatoes, if you find ones that you find superior in flavor, yes? 
Would you consider your Diana Margherita to be Neapolitan despite the Aleppo and Calabrian chili oil?

Obviously I'm a rule breaker.   :-D

Yes, that is correct. I say if you make the best pie you can in the spirit of what defines the sensory qualities of Neapolitan pizza, you should be able to call it Neapolitan without feeling dirty.

The additional topping discussion is off topic, so I'd prefer not to confuse the main question with it, but that being said, I'd consider the Diana Margherita "Neapolitan-style" as opposed to "Neapolitan" There really is no understanding of it from a Neapolitan pizza perspective, so how could it be straight-up "Neapolitan?"
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Offline dhorst

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #13 on: July 22, 2013, 07:18:41 PM »
Yes, that is correct. I say if you make the best pie you can in the spirit of what defines the sensory qualities of Neapolitan pizza, you should be able to call it Neapolitan without feeling dirty.


Well then, I guess we're in agreement then. 

Offline bakeshack

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #14 on: July 22, 2013, 07:27:28 PM »
If one can make a pizza using 0 or 1 type flour with the same characteristics, aesthetics, and quality as a well executed Neapolitan pizza (not just any pizza made in Naples which can also be mediocre), I have no problem calling it Neapolitan pizza.  My problem with it is if it is even possible to do.  I have certainly tried making a Neapolitan pizza before using 0 type flour but it does not even come close to the pizza I make using a 00 flour.  I have made a dough with a mix of 00 and 1 flour with exceptional results and possess the characteristics of an NP pizza.  Within the 00 flour types, one has to understand that there will also be quality differences but even the least impressive Italian 00 flour I have used has the texture that I have not personally achieved yet using a 0 flour.  Maybe a mix of 00 and 0 came close in texture but that might be cheating.   ;D

Now, I have to say that the best pizza I have made so far using a 0 type flour has more Neapolitan characteristics over a lot of pizzas I have eaten from supposedly "Neapolitan pizzerias" using high quality 00 flour .  This is a much bigger issue that I have because these pizzas should not even be found near the name Neapolitan even though they claim to use all the ingredients associated with it - 00 flour, SM tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, etc..



« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 07:33:50 PM by bakeshack »

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #15 on: July 22, 2013, 07:33:53 PM »
If one can make a pizza using 0 or 1 type flour with the same characteristics, aesthetics, and quality as a well executed Neapolitan pizza (not just any pizza made in Naples which can also be mediocre), I have no problem calling it Neapolitan pizza.  My problem with it is if it is even possible to do.  I have certainly tried making a Neapolitan pizza before using 0 type flour but it does not even come close to the pizza I make using a 00 flour.  I have made a dough with a mix of 00 and 1 flour with exceptional results and possess the characteristics of an NP pizza.  Within the 00 flour types, one has to understand that there will also be quality differences but even the least impressive Italian 00 flour I have used has the texture that I have not personally achieved yet using a 0 flour. 

Now, I have to say that the best pizza I have made so far using a 0 type flour has more Neapolitan characteristics over a lot of pizzas I have eaten from supposedly "Neapolitan pizzerias" using high quality 00 flour .  This is a much bigger issue that I have because these pizzas should not even be found near the name Neapolitan even though they claim to use all the ingredients associated with it - 00 flour, SM tomatoes, bufala mozzarella, etc..

What about a flour that may be "00" in all it's characteristics but doesn't have "00" printed on the bag?
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Offline bakeshack

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #16 on: July 22, 2013, 07:46:42 PM »
What about a flour that may be "00" in all it's characteristics but doesn't have "00" printed on the bag?

Is there such a flour available?  Maybe the same blend of grains used in a Caputo 00 flour but refined only up to a 0 type can produce comparable results using a higher hydration dough.




Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #17 on: July 22, 2013, 07:52:22 PM »
I have not noticed any conformity among looks of pizza made in Naples though I can't speak to the taste.

I prefer a definition defined by: local sourced, natural ingredients that are processed by hand cooked rapidly to produce a final product is tender, digestible, and full of flavor. It is peasant food and that is the defining characteristic.

edit for spelling.
« Last Edit: July 22, 2013, 08:10:44 PM by Tscarborough »

Offline dhorst

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #18 on: July 22, 2013, 09:07:17 PM »
I have not noticed any conformity among looks of pizza made in Naples though I can't speak to the taste.

I prefer a definition defined by: local sourced, natural ingredients that are processed by hand cooked rapidly to produce a final product is tender, digestible, and full of flavor. It is peasant food and that is the defining characteristic.

edit for spelling.

Well, said, sir.  Quality, indeed, but that can certainly be a part of peasant food.  Hand picked ingredients...

Offline Tscarborough

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Re: Can a pizza be Neapolitan without "00" Flour?
« Reply #19 on: July 22, 2013, 09:14:40 PM »
Peasant food does not imply lack of quality ingredients or skilled preparation, what it does exclude is expensive ingredients not sourced locally.  To me, a perfect Neapolitan pizza in Austin will use locally sourced curds for the fiore de latte, the best tomatoes available (usually not local for the better part of the year), and a dough that knows what it is about.  And a hot ass oven.  That, in the right hands, will give you what the Neapolitan street pizza tradition wants you to taste.


 

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