Author Topic: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?  (Read 5337 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12833
  • Location: Houston, TX
No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« on: August 16, 2014, 11:51:25 AM »
Discussing sourdough in a NY forum is like discussing malt in an NP forum.

There's no sourdough in NY style pizza.  If you want to take a NY style recipe and use natural leavening, by all means, have a blast, but what you're making isn't NY style, and doesn't belong in this section- this belongs in the 'other' styles section.

This site is confusing enough than to lead beginners to believe that NY style pizza can contain sourdough.

There has never been sourdough in NY style pizza and there never will be.  The only authority that has implied otherwise is Jeff Varasano, and he recently recanted his position.

Associating NY style pizza with sourdough, even just for experimentation, does a massive disservice to new members looking to recreate their favorite pizza. We get enough new members coming over from Jeff's website laboring under this misconception. We don't need to spread it within the forum, especially by someone with your authoritative voice.

Peter, show me any official definition for 'homemade yeast' in any dictionary or encyclopedia, abridged, unabridged, whatever.  You can't, because one does not exist.  A term cannot misrepresent a business entity if it possesses no universally agreed upon meaning.

I’m curious; who or what is the authority that has specified that there is no SD in NY style pizza? These comments are so black-and-white, so serious in their consequences, surely a detailed set of rules is documented somewhere. Where can I go to read that specification? Is there an AVPN-like organization for NY-style? Google can’t seem to find it.

Like Scott points out with respect to “homemade yeast,” if there is no definition in any dictionary or encyclopedia, abridged, unabridged, whatever, how could using SD be misrepresenting NY-style?
Pizza is not bread.


Offline mitchjg

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 767
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #1 on: August 16, 2014, 12:26:09 PM »
I have to say I agree with you and you beat me to the punch. Norma, in her quest to make a better pizza (I will not care what label she happens to put on it) ended up creating a thread that was burdened with bickering about the topic you just created.  Thank  you for doing that.

I am a native New Yorker and grew up, "by definition", eating NY style pizza.  I doubt if there was SD in any of the pizza I ate (but I do not care).

No doubt, many people on the forum are new.  We all were at some point.  And, many of them are looking to recreate their favorite pizza.  As well known forum members have pointed out many times, there is NY style and there is NY style.  I was born in 1952 and left NY in 1974.  Have been back many times since.   Much of the current NY style pizza is crap and it has degraded over time.  So, should we have a forum for recreating NY style from the old days?  Should we have the forum to be broader to include the crap?  Should we have a forum for recreating the crap?

Norma was encouraged to move her thread to Other.  Great.  Let's have a forum for "rigorously defined NY Style, as determined by Steve or someone appointed by Steve."  No one should post there unless they follow the rigor.  Then, we can have a thread for everyone else, title "Sorta NY Pizza, but without a tight leash that chokes so much it hurts.".  The old place may be a very lonely place (ever read "Who moved my cheese?")

This forum already defines NY Style to include pizzas made with SD starter.  Just check out the http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=11860.0 thread titled "Collection of Non-Lehmann New York Style Dough Formulations."  The guy who authored the thread is some guy with a handle "Pete-zza."  He must not know much about pizza since there are several recipes in there for NY style pizza that uses SD starter.

So, we have a problem.  We are in a forum that has a style that seems to include SD starter.  And, that thread was started by a Global Moderator.  And, it had over 27,000 views.  If we ned to protect those new members seeking to recreate their favorite pizza, as defined by someone other than Peter, then we are already off the rails.

What about Elite style vs. street style? 

Why should we care that much?  We certainly do not want a bunch of rye breads with caraway seeds (I grew up eating that, too and I miss it) showing up on this forum as NY Style Pizza.  But, do we have to restrict it in such a dogmatic way that it succeeds in preserving the ancient ways but blocks innovation, progress, change, etc.?

What about the way Steve has already defined NY Style Pizza? "Also known as Neapolitan-American style. Dough is stretched and/or tossed. Pizza has a bready rim that tapers down to a thin, foldable center."  Should we ask  him to fix his mistake?

Alternative: Lighten Up

End of Rant.

- Mitch

« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 12:28:17 PM by mitchjg »

scott123

  • Guest
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #2 on: August 16, 2014, 12:58:07 PM »
Every single expert on NY pizza, every single industry insider (and we've seen a few) this forum has ever seen.
Every New York member, past and present.
Every owner that I've ever spoken with.
Every NY pizza obsessive that I've ever spoken with.
My taste buds. My own personal experience at hundreds of area pizzerias spanning three decades.

That's who says.

Who's saying there is sourdough in NY style pizza? You, Craig? You're an incredibly smart guy and you make world class Neapolitan pizza, but if you think, for a second, that either qualifies you as an expert on what IS and what ISN'T in NY style pizza, you are dead wrong.

Offline Pete-zza

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22144
  • Location: Texas
  • Always learning
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #3 on: August 16, 2014, 01:13:12 PM »
Mitch,

You are correct that the compilation of NY style dough formulations includes several that are based on using natural leavening systems. As I have noted before, based on my own experiences using natural starters, I have viewed such starters as just alternative leavening systems, albeit ones that confer certain desirable flavor and textural aspects to the finished crust. With the desecration of the classic NY style pizza that has taken place over the past many years, with just about every food establishment in NYC offering some version of NY style pizza, that no one on this forum would want to eat, I would think that one would welcome the introduction of methods and techniques that improve and enhance the stature of the NY style pizza. Using a natural leavening system would be one such method. I can understand that Scott would like to preserve the classic and traditional ways of making the NY style, but the damage that so many pizza and restaurant operators have done to the style seems unstoppable.

As for the forum's index classification system, this is something that is questioned from time to time. Steve's preference has always been not to have a classification for every style of pizza. There are just too many of them, from New Haven style, Detroit style, St. Louis style, and so on. Often there aren't enough threads on those styles to justify separate pizza boards. A few years ago, I had to arm wrestle Steve to add a new board for specialty-grain pizza recipes (which could also include gluten-free). So, it is unrealistic in my opinion to think about adding several more pizza boards.

Peter

Offline quixoteQ

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 272
  • Location: Boston
  • Give me Shackleton Every Time
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #4 on: August 16, 2014, 01:14:37 PM »
I don't have any blood in this game, but the New York Style forum section seems like a reasonable place to have this discussion.  I have seen vehement defenders of Neapolitan authenticity and Chicago thin authenticity, so I don't see any problem with someone defending the authenticity of the New York style.  If there isn't a consensus (on this site, if nowhere else) then this is the place for debate.

However, nobody deserves to have their thread hijacked.  If there is an important decision about where a particular thread belongs, then what ever necessary discussion should take place privately, or, at the least in a separate thread (like this one  :) ).

Josh

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12833
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #5 on: August 16, 2014, 01:19:29 PM »
Every single expert on NY pizza, every single industry insider (and we've seen a few) this forum has ever seen.
Every New York member, past and present.
Every owner that I've ever spoken with.
Every NY pizza obsessive that I've ever spoken with.
My taste buds. My own personal experience at hundreds of area pizzerias spanning three decades.

That's who says.

Everyone agrees and yet nowhere is it written. Curious.

Why don't you list some names of experts who have expressly said or written that NY-style must be made with baker's yeast.

Quote
Who's saying there is sourdough in NY style pizza? You, Craig? You're an incredibly smart guy and you make world class Neapolitan pizza, but if you think, for a second, that either qualifies you as an expert on what IS and what ISN'T in NY style pizza, you are dead wrong.

Where did I say what is and is not NY-style? I simply asked a question that apparently you can't answer with any specificity. Nowhere did I claim to be an expert in NY pizza. Quite the opposite. I'm looking for an answer - not giving one. That you are trying to put words in my mouth rather than answer with your own speaks volumes.
Pizza is not bread.

scott123

  • Guest
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #6 on: August 16, 2014, 01:22:29 PM »
I am a native New Yorker and grew up, "by definition", eating NY style pizza.  I doubt if there was SD in any of the pizza I ate (but I do not care).

You doubt if there was SD, huh?  If you grew up eating NY style pizza, you know darn well that there wasn't any SD in it.  Just because you don't care about the culture that you grew up in doesn't mean that I can't.

NY style pizza is a tangible, perceptible, and, to an extent, quantifiable thing.  It's not what Norma, Jeff Varasano, you, Craig or even I want it to be.  It just is. Nobody here invented it. History made it.  It has been forged by thousands of pizzerias and imprinted on the collective consciousness of millions of New Yorkers over the course of 70 years.  Certain aspects are harder to nail down than others, but sourdough is NOT one of these aspects. No one has the right to come along and try to morph it into something that it clearly is not- especially not anyone with any kind of sway over impressionable minds.

All I'm asking is that Norma (and anyone else adding sourdough to NY style recipes) call it something other than NY style. If you're not making NY style pizza, call it something else.  You, she, anyone, can experiment with any ingredient imaginable, without disrespecting a city's culture and history.

scott123

  • Guest
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2014, 01:30:48 PM »
Where did I say what is and is not NY-style? I simply asked a question that apparently you can't answer with any specificity. Nowhere did I claim to be an expert in NY pizza. Quite the opposite. I'm looking for an answer - not giving one.

Invent a time machine and a reverse aging machine, go back in time, and spend 40 years here. Then we'll talk.

Offline JD

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1243
  • Location: NE Mississippi, but NY born & raised
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2014, 01:36:59 PM »
With respect, Craig, does that mean your pies are not Neapolitan?

I know - that's why I was sure to qualify the statement with IMO. My pies will probably never be blessed by the VPN.

Josh

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12833
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2014, 01:39:35 PM »
With respect, Craig, does that mean your pies are not Neapolitan?

Technically or in my mind?
Pizza is not bread.


scott123

  • Guest
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #10 on: August 16, 2014, 01:41:53 PM »
I can understand that Scott would like to preserve the classic and traditional ways of making the NY style, but the damage that so many pizza and restaurant operators have done to the style seems unstoppable.

So, when a famous piece of art is vandalized or damaged by the elements/time, we just let the damage continue unabated, because, well, it's just 'seems unstoppable?'

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12833
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #11 on: August 16, 2014, 01:43:42 PM »
NY style pizza is a tangible, perceptible, and, to an extent, quantifiable thing.  It's not what Norma, Jeff Varasano, you, Craig or even I want it to be. 

Why does your opinion matter? Apparently that's all this is about.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline JD

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 1243
  • Location: NE Mississippi, but NY born & raised
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #12 on: August 16, 2014, 01:52:56 PM »
Technically or in my mind?

Technically you've admitted you are not following the standard.

So if I followed your process exactly, but added 1% oil because I like it, would I be any less Neapolitan than you? 1% oil to Neapolitan is what Sourdough is to NY in this scenario. Just because there isn't a NYVPN doesn't make it less credible, IMO.

Sourdough is not beneficial in oven temperatures under 600* unless you dramatically increase bake time. I certainly don't know the true statistics, but I'd guess a high majority of NY pizza restaurants are using deck ovens under 600*


Josh

scott123

  • Guest
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #13 on: August 16, 2014, 01:58:48 PM »
Why does your opinion matter? Apparently that's all this is about.

Oh, absolutely, Craig, this all about me ::) Sourdough is just rampant in NY style, but, because I happen to prefer Baker's yeast, I'm fabricating history here.  That has to be what's going on, right?

You are an outsider making implications about my area's history, my area's culture. The onus is not on me here. I'm not spending an hour or two googling expert testimony on this subject. If you think that sourdough is or has ever been a component of NY style pizza, you prove it.

Produce one single NY style pizzeria using sourdough and I'll drop this entirely.
« Last Edit: August 16, 2014, 02:00:56 PM by scott123 »

Offline norma427

  • Lifetime Member
  • Global Moderator
  • *
  • Posts: 22185
  • Location: Lancaster County, Pa.
    • learningknowledgetomakepizza
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #14 on: August 16, 2014, 02:08:14 PM »
I wonder when Terry (tdeane) posted about his making his NY style pizza with a wild yeast culture why nobody questioned what he was doing.  http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,7561.0.html 

It can be seen that Terry did live in NYC at Reply 676

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=576.msg61474#msg61474

Terry posts at Reply 715 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=576.msg61676#msg61676  says that he was the one that knows what NY pizza is actually supposed to be like. 

Terry also posted at Reply 709 http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php?topic=576.msg61648#msg61648 that he had lived in NYC and ate many NY style pizzas there.

There are also other posts by Terry that are interesting. 

Scott, you commented on Terry's one thread and did question why Terry was using a starter in his NY style pizzas. 

Norma
Always working and looking for new information!

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12833
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #15 on: August 16, 2014, 02:11:35 PM »
Technically you've admitted you are not following the standard.

So if I followed your process exactly, but added 1% oil because I like it, would I be any less Neapolitan than you? 1% oil to Neapolitan is what Sourdough is to NY in this scenario. Just because there isn't a NYVPN doesn't make it less credible, IMO.

First of all, the quote of mine that you pilled completely out of context has nothing to do with my pies being NP or not. The main reason why my pies will probably never be blessed by the AVPN or anyone else is because I will probably never ask for their blessings. The only thing I do that comes to mind that doesn't fit the AVPN standard is that I make the pies bigger than their upper limit. I think I'm in pretty good company there. It's hardly comparable to adding oil to the dough.

Your oil to SD comparison was fatally flawed before you even started. If one wants to be strict to the NP standard, at least there is a standard to reference; with NY, all you have is opinion.

Quote
Sourdough is not beneficial in oven temperatures under 600*

Really? That's news to me. I can't wait to hear your explanation.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline quixoteQ

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 272
  • Location: Boston
  • Give me Shackleton Every Time
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #16 on: August 16, 2014, 02:18:42 PM »

Your oil to SD comparison was fatally flawed before you even started. If one wants to be strict to the NP standard, at least there is a standard to reference; with NY, all you have is opinion.


Your argument is that it's essential to have an official organization define a style for it to exist?  It seems that origin, tradition, and common usage define a style.  It's not the AVPN that makes oil a deal breaker for the Neapolitan title. 
Josh

Offline Donjo911

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 886
  • Age: 47
  • Location: Oregon
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #17 on: August 16, 2014, 02:20:20 PM »
It's just a question. I don't know the answer but it does come to mind that IDY & ADY are fairly new in the span of baking.  Did the first italians that made pizza in NY even have access to IDY or ADY?  It occured to me that they must have used brewers yeast or a natural culture.  If it happened before IDY/ADY doesent that mean all NY pizza used a different leavening agent at the inception of NY-style pizza than is being done today?  Not arguing - just curious!
Cheers,
Don
Few great accomplishments are achieved single-handedly, Most have their Norgays.
How do you spot a Norgay?
You start with the people with the funny names.

Offline TXCraig1

  • Registered User
  • Posts: 12833
  • Location: Houston, TX
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #18 on: August 16, 2014, 02:23:25 PM »
Oh, absolutely, Craig, this all about me ::)
Apparently it is all about you because you either can't or won't list the people who agree.

Quote
Sourdough is just rampant in NY style, but, because I happen to prefer Baker's yeast, I'm fabricating history here.  That has to be what's going on, right?

You are trying to confuse people by conflate multiple issues. This thread nor your claims of what is allowed are about what is not about history or what is common today. This thread is simply asking what authority says using SD in NYP makes it not NYP. Your opinion is not authority no matter how badly you want it to be.

Quote
You are an outsider making implications about my area's history, my area's culture. The onus is not on me here. I'm not spending an hour or two googling expert testimony on this subject. If you think that sourdough is or has ever been a component of NY style pizza, you prove it.

Produce one single NY style pizzeria using sourdough and I'll drop this entirely.

I'm afraid the onus is on you because you are the one making claims you don't seem to be able to support. I don't disagree that it's not common. Maybe nobody is doing it. That doesn't imply it's not allowed. If someone was making great NYS with SD, I don't think very many people would give darn that it wasn't made with baker's yeast - heck, according to you, people would seek it out and they would make money hand over fist in the worst possible location in NYC.
Pizza is not bread.

Offline mitchjg

  • Supporting Member
  • *
  • Posts: 767
Re: No sourdough in NY pizza? Says who?
« Reply #19 on: August 16, 2014, 02:27:16 PM »

You are correct that the compilation of NY style dough formulations includes several that are based on using natural leavening systems. As I have noted before, based on my own experiences using natural starters, I have viewed such starters as just alternative leavening systems, albeit ones that confer certain desirable flavor and textural aspects to the finished crust. With the desecration of the classic NY style pizza that has taken place over the past many years, with just about every food establishment in NYC offering some version of NY style pizza, that no one on this forum would want to eat, I would think that one would welcome the introduction of methods and techniques that improve and enhance the stature of the NY style pizza. Using a natural leavening system would be one such method. I can understand that Scott would like to preserve the classic and traditional ways of making the NY style, but the damage that so many pizza and restaurant operators have done to the style seems unstoppable.


Very well said, thank you.  My concern is that issues get so buried in "official definitions" and we get too black and white, that efforts to improve things are impeded.  Latin is a dead language.  Great NY Style Pizza does not have to be locked in based on something that was prevalent a long time ago, but like Latin, we can study the classics but not change anything.  It could be that, but it does not have to be.


As for the forum's index classification system, this is something that is questioned from time to time. Steve's preference has always been not to have a classification for every style of pizza. There are just too many of them, from New Haven style, Detroit style, St. Louis style, and so on. Often there aren't enough threads on those styles to justify separate pizza boards. A few years ago, I had to arm wrestle Steve to add a new board for specialty-grain pizza recipes (which could also include gluten-free). So, it is unrealistic in my opinion to think about adding several more pizza boards.


Given that, then it seems to me that if someone wants to discuss the addition of SD to what may otherwise be "officially" NY Style then this would be the best forum in which to have that discussion and it would not be a good thing to banish the discussion to Other (which is designated to be dedicated to, among other things, breadsticks).

You doubt if there was SD, huh?  If you grew up eating NY style pizza, you know darn well that there wasn't any SD in it.  Just because you don't care about the culture that you grew up in doesn't mean that I can't.

You don't know what I know.  But, I do not recall any pizza in NY that, fast forwarding to my SD knowledge today, I would remember as having SD.  Back then, I knew absolutely nothing about commercial yeast vs. SD and I doubt if I ever had an SD bread (but I don't know that).  So, I said "doubt."  But, yes, I have little doubt you are correct even if it was not 100%, it was up there in the 99+%.


NY style pizza is a tangible, perceptible, and, to an extent, quantifiable thing.  It's not what Norma, Jeff Varasano, you, Craig or even I want it to be.  It just is.

All I'm asking is that Norma (and anyone else adding sourdough to NY style recipes) call it something other than NY style. If you're not making NY style pizza, call it something else.  You, she, anyone, can experiment with any ingredient imaginable, without disrespecting a city's culture and history.

Sounds like a Supreme Court discussion of that p**n.  I do not think it just "is."  It is more that it "was".  I think you can say "I know it when I see it" or in this case "eat it".  But, unless it (pizza being made today that is purported to be NY Style) conforms to something that used to be around a lot, then you want to call it something else? 

This goes back to my comment before.  You can have a forum dedicated to the unchangeable, old time, good NY style pizza and make sure everyone knows that it is etched in stone and innovation is not permitted or permitted only by someone in charge (you?).  And, then we can have a forum where people can innovate. 

Not really practical.  Really, 2 forums for NY Style Pizza?  The old stuff vs. the innovation and elbow room to improve or change stuff?

I used to be a college level math teacher.  60% was passing.  The student with 59% would show up looking for a break.  If I gave him/her the break, then next in line would be 58%.  Are we doing that here?  If NY Style Pizza is "supposed to be" 1.75% salt, is 1.76% OK?  What about 1.77%?  Of course it is OK.  What about 5%?  Of course, that is not OK.  Where is the line?  Requires judgment.

I learned a long time ago in business that being excessively rigid about everything, for the sake of staking out the rules, can help the business in some ways but hurt it in others.  Very often valuable is to ask "what does good look like?" and know you are going to get subjective answers that do not always have numbers or specificity.    And, if something is more accurate, precise or both, one of us often asked "so what?"  Because, what is actually important to meet your objective is not necessary derived from firm rules based rigid  parameters.

So, wait, Norma is supposed to call it something other than NY Style to avoid disrespecting culture and history?  I thought it was to avoid confusing Newbies.  C'mon, this is not a courtroom where you say whatever you have to say (and can get away with) to win.  The politicians can try to appeal to whatever motivates the voter.  This is not a political race or a courtroom drama.

The ancient ways should be honored because they produced good results.  We should allow room for innovation and lots of it.  We would not be extreme and destructive by banishing SD starter added to NY Style to the home of breadsticks.  How about leaving NY Style alone and calling the style you like "The Original NY Style that was ubiquitous during a period of time (the good old days) but that is not really the same thing as the Original Rays and is not the crap served today by most"?  Or, less sarcastically and more constructively: You can call the pizza you are trying to describe as "Traditional NY Style" and let everyone else call what they are doing in this forum "NY Style."  In other words, you can be the one that is wiling to change for the greater good and still make the point you are trying to make.



 

pizzapan