Author Topic: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..  (Read 7051 times)

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Offline pizzanapoletana

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The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« on: October 08, 2006, 04:35:58 PM »
Following up on my recent discussion with Edan of 2 Amys, I would like to point you out to this link (VPN Italy), where Vincenzo Pace (now dead), the father of the president of VPN, released an interview to a famous Italian newspaper, where he talked about fermentation at room temperature and the fact that there is not a recipe...

http://www.pizzanapoletana.org/chisiamo.php#fondazione

here is a google translation which I have slightly amended... (why pizza get translated as peak???)

President and dean of the association is Vincenzo Pace, father of Antonio, that works the oven since he was ten: ” The secret of the pizza is all in the dough. - says Don Vincenzo - the recipe? It does not exist and I tell you why: since small I have learned that the dough changes according to the time, if cold, warm, dry or sirocco. As an example with the cold weather it wants warm water and little salt; with the warmth, more salt which help to control the fermentation. These are things to establish the evening, when the dough is prepared. It is needed ten, twelve hours for a perfect crescenza…  the process can be standardized, but it is the experience that refines the art.”.

The father was a true pizzamaker, the son is a restaurator/businessman.....

« Last Edit: October 08, 2006, 04:51:24 PM by pizzanapoletana »


Offline shango

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #1 on: October 10, 2006, 06:28:18 PM »
 ;D The pizza is good :'(
pizza, pizza, pizza

Offline shango

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #2 on: October 10, 2006, 10:07:12 PM »
 >:D but now WE (legion) are many  >:D

Just kidding.
 :chef: -E
pizza, pizza, pizza

Offline scpizza

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #3 on: October 23, 2006, 01:40:02 PM »
I don’t agree with this “pizzamaking is an art” perspective.  I think pizzamaking is a science.

Art demands that human emotion or human creativity be employed, for example creating a great da Vinci painting.

Science only requires a body of knowledge and skills that cover all the relevant physical principles, like building a Ford Mustang.
 
In the dark ages, those who figured out simple principles of science were considered magical artists by those ignorant of the physical laws employed.  Let’s not fall into the same mindset.

The Vincenzo Pace quote actually bears out my point.  Understanding that yeast need warmer water and less salt when cooking in a cold environment doesn’t exemplify how pizzamaking is an art.  In fact, I can codify that bit of information and move on to the next important principle or technique until I capture so many that I do have a “recipe” - a rich set of processes on how to make as good a pizza as any great Italian master pizzaiolo.

I will admit pizzamaking is a very complicated science.  Those of us engaged in figuring out how to make good pizza can attest to that.  We just lack a thorough understanding of all the important variables.  This is why we hang on the words of experienced and knowledgeable pizzamakers like pizzanapoletana, run hundreds of experiments, and share discoveries amongst ourselves - to relentlessly strive to figure out the science behind creating good pizza.

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2006, 02:15:21 PM »
I don’t agree with this “pizzamaking is an art” perspective.  I think pizzamaking is a science.

Art demands that human emotion or human creativity be employed, for example creating a great da Vinci painting.

Science only requires a body of knowledge and skills that cover all the relevant physical principles, like building a Ford Mustang.


Not to minimize the importance of science in all kinds of cooking (I was a scientist in a previous life), do you really think cooking is devoid of emotion or creativity? Cooking is my favorite creative outlet and is often an expression of my emotions. When I enter the kitchen, my "experimentation" is based on my moods, my feelings for those I will be serving, and my desire to prepare the very best of what I am making. In my case,  physical principles combine with my skill level and my emotional state to create something that ain't the Mona Lisa, but is still as much an artistic expression for me as painting was for Leonardo. Cooking is science, cooking is art, and cooking is craft.

Bill/SFNM

Offline Finnegans Wake

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2006, 04:04:43 PM »
My perspective has always been that cooking is an art, baking is a science.  When I'm making a puttanesca, I'm going by the recipe in my head, by the materials on hand, by how garlicky I may be in the mood that evening.  There are known principles and techniques, for cutting, for sauteeing, for whatever, but the cooking flow is very much a free association of inspiration and action.

I guess that's one reason getting into homemade pizzas.  Well, the primary reason was that I love pizza and I was finally wakened to the realization that there are no expceptional pizza places in my area.  But I guess that I wanted to refine my baking skills.  My attempts at bread have been abominable, and at pizza no better than crude, if whimsical.  I know I can do better, so I'm studying up. 

Now, pizza dough I consider primarily science.  This site is so loaded with excellent info about crusts and baking that I am still reeling.  But IMHO, what you top that crust with is more art, even though there are issues of interaction.  So pizza is that nexus of the humble and the sublime, of art and science. 

Did I mediate that OK?
Education: that which reveals to the wise, and conceals from the stupid, the vast limits of their knowledge. --
Mark Twain

Offline scpizza

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #6 on: October 23, 2006, 04:13:11 PM »
I didn't mean to say cooking can't be a creative endeavor, for example, when creating a new dish.  And even scientists use creativity when devising experiments. 

My point is that any particular final output, e.g. a Da Michelle tasting pizza, does not require one to be making pizza in Naples since one was 10 years old otherwise one might as well give up.  There is no "magic" to any particularly tasting pizza and no reason why a recipe and associated processes couldn't be clearly written down to recreate that pizza.

A good example would be McDonald's fries (see story below).  It was a very creative endeavor how the unique taste was originally stumbled upon - the sacks of potatoes were being left outside in the dry desert air.  Now Ray Kroc/the McDonald brothers could have claimed good fries were an art and only their lone restaurant could do them properly and artisans would have to study on site for years before being qualified to properly make the fries.  Instead Ray Kroc had scientists study the fries, figure out exactly what conditions were making the fries taste so good, and create a reproducible recipe so people around the world could enjoy the authentic taste of the fries.

I wish Neapolitan pizza experts would take a similar attitude and approach so that everyone could enjoy authentic Neapolitan pizza regularly instead of consuming so much bad pizza for lack of anything better.


----------


The Trouble with Fries

March 5, 2001
ANNALS OF EATING

In 1954, a man named Ray Kroc, who made his living selling the five-spindle Multimixer milkshake machine, began hearing about a hamburger stand in San Bernardino, California. This particular restaurant, he was told, had no fewer than eight of his machines in operation, meaning that it could make forty shakes simultaneously. Kroc was astounded. He flew from Chicago to Los Angeles, and drove to San Bernardino, sixty miles away, where he found a small octagonal building on a corner lot. He sat in his car and watched as the workers showed up for the morning shift. They were in starched white shirts and paper hats, and moved with a purposeful discipline. As lunchtime approached, customers began streaming into the parking lot, lining up for bags of hamburgers. Kroc approached a strawberry blonde in a yellow convertible.

"How often do you come here?" he asked.

"Anytime I am in the neighborhood," she replied, and, Kroc would say later, "it was not her sex appeal but the obvious relish with which she devoured the hamburger that made my pulse begin to hammer with excitement." He came back the next morning, and this time set up inside the kitchen, watching the griddle man, the food preparers, and, above all, the French-fry operation, because it was the French fries that truly captured his imagination. They were made from top-quality oblong Idaho russets, eight ounces apiece, deep-fried to a golden brown, and salted with a shaker that, as he put it, kept going like a Salvation Army girl's tambourine. They were crispy on the outside and buttery soft on the inside, and that day Kroc had a vision of a chain of restaurants, just like the one in San Bernardino, selling golden fries from one end of the country to the other. He asked the two brothers who owned the hamburger stand if he could buy their franchise rights. They said yes. Their names were Mac and Dick McDonald.

Ray Kroc was the great visionary of American fast food, the one who brought the lessons of the manufacturing world to the restaurant business. Before the fifties, it was impossible, in most American towns, to buy fries of consistent quality. Ray Kroc was the man who changed that. "The french fry," he once wrote, "would become almost sacrosanct for me, its preparation a ritual to be followed religiously." A potato that has too great a percentage of water--and potatoes, even the standard Idaho russet burbank, vary widely in their water content--will come out soggy at the end of the frying process. It was Kroc, back in the fifties, who sent out field men, armed with hydrometers, to make sure that all his suppliers were producing potatoes in the optimal solids range of twenty to twenty-three per cent. Freshly harvested potatoes, furthermore, are rich in sugars, and if you slice them up and deep-fry them the sugars will caramelize and brown the outside of the fry long before the inside is cooked. To make a crisp French fry, a potato has to be stored at a warm temperature for several weeks in order to convert those sugars to starch. Here Kroc led the way as well, mastering the art of "curing" potatoes by storing them under a giant fan in the basement of his first restaurant, outside Chicago.

Perhaps his most enduring achievement, though, was the so-called potato computer--developed for McDonald's by a former electrical engineer for Motorola named Louis Martino--which precisely calibrated the optimal cooking time for a batch of fries. (The key: when a batch of cold raw potatoes is dumped into a vat of cooking oil, the temperature of the fat will drop and then slowly rise. Once the oil has risen three degrees, the fries are ready.) Previously, making high-quality French fries had been an art. The potato computer, the hydrometer, and the curing bins made it a science. By the time Kroc was finished, he had figured out how to turn potatoes into an inexpensive snack that would always be hot, salty, flavorful, and crisp, no matter where or when you bought it.
.....

Offline Bill/SFNM

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #7 on: October 23, 2006, 04:21:59 PM »
Did I mediate that OK?

I hate to get bogged down in semantics and prefer to concentrate on process. Perhaps I approach making pies differently from others. My process is usually something like this: What kind of pie do I feel like baking? When does it need to be ready? Who else is going to be eating it? What do I want the texture and flavor of the dough to be? What toppings might everyone enjoy that are available, preferably in season, and will match well with the dough I have selected? What changes do I want to make to my procedure or ingredients to learn more about how they interact?

I get a very clear picture in my mind of what I want to make and then I use all of the resources available to me and what skills I have developed to create that pie, making adjustments along the way as the mood strikes me, and trying to observe closely to learn as much as I can.

Call this whatever you want. This is how I cook and bake. I would be curious to hear how others approach this. Perhaps a new thread is in order. I'll create a new one if there are enough responses on this subject.

Bill/SFNM
« Last Edit: October 23, 2006, 04:24:06 PM by Bill/SFNM »

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #8 on: October 23, 2006, 04:34:03 PM »
  There is no "magic" to any particularly tasting pizza and no reason why a recipe and associated processes couldn't be clearly written down to recreate that pizza.


You can only obtain scientific results in dough making in a lab like environment where everything is controlled... Take that away and it won't work.

I think "art" was a good word in that context: The process (recipe) can be standardised, but the experience (hands on knowledge) refine the arts ("The feel" of the dough).

Also you are really undervalueing the "experience factor" and hope that you do not really think to "reproduce a Da Michele tasting pizza" by re-searching on the net. If I were you, I would value more the experience of people like Sumeri and Il Pizzaiolo, both pizzeria owners and pizzamaker that have very much understood and testified on the importance of the "experience" (it doesn't have to be since you were 10).

Anyway that passage wasn't the reason behind be reporting that article...

Ciao

Offline November

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #9 on: October 23, 2006, 04:55:58 PM »
Cooking is science, cooking is art, and cooking is craft.

Cooking is necessary, unless you like raw food.


Offline scpizza

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #10 on: October 23, 2006, 05:45:39 PM »
Actually it's because I value the "experience factor" so much that I am unhappy that it is currently so obscured and mystified.

"The feel" of properly kneaded/risen/etc dough actually corresponds to a set of precise chemical states (gluten structure, hydration, etc.) that unfortunately remains uncharacterized at this time.  That doesn't mean it's an art.

What's worse, "the feel" is achieved through techniques that we only get tantalizing and incomplete glances of through jittery Internet videos or a tidbit of advice here and there.  Even good hands on training is extremely difficult to come by.  For the most part, the experts seem to be keeping their techniques close to the vest.

It feels a bit like the early days of Linux where hackers frustrated with the closed nature of proprietary OSes set out to create an open OS from scratch utilizing repeated experimentation, extensive information sharing, and fully documented techniques.  Really, here we are doing the same with pizza.

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #11 on: October 23, 2006, 06:04:18 PM »
Scpizza,

I have agree to disagree with you. My last words on this are: I train and consult people and can tell you that even after covering the science and techniques, without "feel" and passion they do not get anywhere. You still believe is only science? Then read Calvel and re-produce all the pizza you taste... not in 10 years of experimenting, but just after you finish the book. If you are succesfull, then it is science, if you are not, then it is art!!!

Once again, I'll repeat myself, but I have studied exstensivly, Bread Baking & Tecnology, Microbiology of dough microfloras and other bits of science that can apply to pizzamaking. I did so to undertsand the process and help me explaining it to my clients but with the undertsanding that the theory won't allow you to replace the lack of "art"..

Ciao and Buona Fortuna  with your quest.

Offline shango

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #12 on: October 23, 2006, 08:20:16 PM »
I must agree with pizzanapoletana.

I have worked with many people whom were uninspired and more interested in receiving a pay check then making good pizze.

The funny thing is these people made inferior pizze, and they were using the same recipe, ingredients, and tools that I was using.

Maybe your inability to see pizze as an "art"  is the reason you haven't been able to make a pizza you consider to be 1st class....

When making neapolitan pizze; passion and experience are everything.

Take it from me...I can barely read so how could "science" help me make a better pizza?

Try using less of the scientific part of your brain and using more of the other part.
 ;)
Thanks,
-E
pizza, pizza, pizza

Offline November

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #13 on: October 23, 2006, 08:47:54 PM »
Oh and now I find an appropriate place to mention this article.

http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,3920.msg33230.html#msg33230

I lean more towards science as a foundation for cooking or baking, because you can have all the passion in the world, but if you don't know the difference between salt and sugar, I wouldn't come within ten feet of your food.  I generally find that people who say baking a pizza is only an art, are intimidated by science.  It's biology and it's chemistry.  They may be difficult subjects for some to comprehend, but it doesn't change the reality of the situation.

I've got a friend who's passionate about cooking, and loves to brag about how good his food is.  His food isn't good, but he does get carried away with this enthusiasm.  His food isn't good because he doesn't seem to understand how certain ingredient combinations work together (or work against each other).  The day someone can duplicate a pizza they only know the ingredients to, and not the proportions, preparation procedures and equipment, is the day I will admit pizza making is strictly an art-form.  An artist can look at another painting and duplicate it based on what he sees, a musician can hear a piece of music and duplicate it based on what he hears, but a pizza "artisan" can do no such thing.

- red.november

Online Pete-zza

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2006, 09:07:01 PM »
This is a subject that comes up from time to time. I thought a good post on the subject was this one: http://www.pizzamaking.com/forum/index.php/topic,2731.msg23637.html#msg23637 (Reply 14). My followup Reply 16 mentioned other reasons for relying on the math and science aspects of pizza making.

Peter

Offline November

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #15 on: October 23, 2006, 09:15:58 PM »
To say a little more on the subject:

To be "creative" means that one posses the ability to create.  Creation does not require anything beyond the material that makes up what is created.  Duplication requires the material and the knowledge of how to make it.  The reason why these concepts need to be set apart is because making a pizza is largely a duplicative effort.  If one didn't try hard enough to make a pizza look and taste like a pizza, it would be something else.  Art clearly falls into the category of a creative process, because an artist just needs paint (or whatever his medium is) and he can create whatever he wants and still call it art.  I can't do whatever I want with a handful of ingredients and still call it a pizza.

- red.november

EDIT: I would argue that the term "feel" being thrown around is a sensory input, not an emotional variable.  There are many sensory inputs relied upon in all fields of science.  When someone says they make their dough based on feel, what they are really saying is they detect through their sense of touch the moisture, surface texture, elasticity, springiness, sponginess, etc. of the dough.  This isn't to minimize the skill of the people who make their dough based on feel (I am one of them), but a highly intelligent machine could perform the same task based on a set of parameters and multiple sensors.  I know many of you will balk at the notion, but I know from experience gained through making computers solve very complex problems for a living that it's possible.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2006, 09:38:56 PM by November »

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #16 on: October 24, 2006, 08:52:37 AM »
  The day someone can duplicate a pizza they only know the ingredients to, and not the proportions, preparation procedures and equipment, is the day I will admit pizza making is strictly an art-form. 
- red.november

That is my point!!!!!

I make the same pizza in London, Naples and any other place I have been but I have to often changes quantities, methodologies, tools etc...

That is why it is an art!!!! It is not strictly an art, but there is a very large Artistic element to it.

I can give you a recipe and be sure that you won't make the same pizza I make out of that recipe.

The day you undertsand that is the day you will probably move towards making a better pizza.

Good luck

Offline scpizza

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #17 on: October 24, 2006, 09:28:02 AM »
But if I followed you around and wrote down all the changes you made to quantities, methodologies, and tools depending on temperature, humidity, oven, etc., then it would once again be a science.  Just because it is complicated, doesn't mean it's an art.

Offline pizzanapoletana

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #18 on: October 24, 2006, 11:54:09 AM »
scpizza,

I do not measure the thing and follow a principle... Yes I measure the water, and probably want to measure the salt..

IT is like: Well, today I think I should put x salt and y yeast and will ad the flour until it feel OK for when I want it ready. You may take all these notes, which change daily and off course there is a scientific principle behind it, but to match all the variables is an art, and you are confident you can make it, without training and training????

Even Architecture is an ART that follows scientific principles, let's not be silly. So all Civil Engineers can be Architects? I do not think so!

I work in the Coorporate Food Business in my Monday to Friday job and to make and have to interact with many food technologist.

To make Industrial Pizza we need to take away the "art" bit, add addittives and end up making something else...

Well, I think some of you have "too much" of a scientific approach to pizzamaking and thus I see it difficult to obtain certain results.

Do not get me wrong, I too refer to science to explain why certain thing work, but It cannot be the principles only that I follow to make my pizza... It won'r work and has never worked.

Ciao

Offline EdF

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Re: The beginning of VPN, when they were "good"..
« Reply #19 on: October 24, 2006, 12:15:36 PM »
But if I followed you around and wrote down all the changes you made to quantities, methodologies, and tools depending on temperature, humidity, oven, etc., then it would once again be a science.  Just because it is complicated, doesn't mean it's an art.

Well, isn't it a bit more like (creative) engineering?  You have a collection of methods and knowledge of the conditions under which they're appropriate.  The real engineering begins when you use your judgment, based on yours' and others' experience, to put together the right combination of those "technical" aspects to suit the current conditions.  It's got both a scientific and an "artisanly" aspect to it.  But I'm sort of an engineer, so my take might be colored a bit.