Author Topic: Cold horror that was once a delicacy  (Read 2247 times)

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Offline Essen1

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Cold horror that was once a delicacy
« on: November 16, 2008, 02:24:37 PM »
I found this article, which I had to translate into English, in the German news magazine "Der Spiegel". It's a homage to the authentic Italian pizza. It's a very nice article.

Cold horror that was once a delicacy

The new trend of today’s pizza seems to be a lot of toppings and preferably greasy. Today, it’s a defenseless disc of dough of Italian origin, which is topped with everything imaginable. That’s reason enough to declare a state of pizza-emergency.

A trouble-free pizza? A world meal for everyone, available everywhere and perfectly prepared? Apparently not anymore.

What is served today in most international catering & restaurant establishments under the label "pizza” has little and almost nothing to do anymore with the puristic ideal of the delicately balanced Italian pizza.

What is topped, in its purest form, only with tomato sauce, mozzarella, olive oil and basil, with a taste so wonderfully unique, is dying nowadays under the onslaught of a thousand toppings. The mind-boggling, and often insane, variations of pizze ("gyros pizza”, “pasta pizza," "barbecue" or even "duck with red cabbage-pizza"), seems to rule and dominate the menus of restaurants. Hardly less frightening is the phenomenon of “Delivery service” and pizza chains, which are constantly discovering new horrors of the ingredients outrage. The new, trendy motto seems to lean toward an overload of toppings, grease and a well deliverable product.

But the cold horror comes from the supermarket: There are poor people who learned their pizza socialization from frozen foods. What remains is the unconditional capitulation. No wonder when it's less and less original quality, quality one can only get at the Pizzeria, fresh from the oven.

Pizza as a do-it-yourself construction? Not a such good idea ...

If someone now believes he could create the puristic, original pizza in a do-it-yourself fashion is up for a rude awakening.

Creating a pizza in our domestic kitchens is usually not such a good idea. Unless you have a not too small wood-fired oven, with a temperature of at least 400 C (750 F) degrees.

The regular home oven, and even the more modern models that can bake regular dough, won’t deliver enough heat and therefore a real authentic, traditional Italian pizza will never come out of this bake & roast device. But if you'd still like to try…well, then your best bet is to stay away from electric kitchen tools. Manual labor (hand kneading) is almost always the best way to go.

And that starts with the dough - thin it must be. Very thin. Kneaded and shaped by hand, without the help of automated mixers. Such as a perfectly scrambled egg can only be accomplished with a hand whisk.

In any case, the dough consists only of fresh yeast, salt, lukewarm water and fine-milled flour, approximately 200 grams for a nice round, single 12-inch pizza. Fine-milled flour is available in any well-stocked supermarket, and perhaps, but not necessary, a little sprinkle of olive oil. That’s all it needs. And with an oven temperature of about 260 C (500 F), you can get by, even though it will still come out with a wide margin, compared to the real deal. And a high-quality pizza stone is also a must.

For the perfect pizza experience however, you might not get around paying the nearby pizzeria a friendly visit. It is there, where you hopefully find the magical wood-fired oven, heated to the all important and correct temperature level necessary to create the famous culinary, yet simple masterpiece.

An accomplished pizza baker kneads the simple dough with feeling and experience and shapes it elegantly into a round skin, loading it directly onto the hot stone surface inside the oven. It’s not only the proper way to do, the end result promises to be the phenomenal.

If the pizza crust is done with the correct thinness, it responds to the toppings with even more sensitivity. In other words, frugality in regards to the toppings is a must.

Again, mozzarella, tomato sauce, a little fresh basil and a dash of olive oil is all a good pizza needs. If you like…some dried oregano. Basta! More is already too much.

What else qualifies as toppings? A fine salami, perhaps a very good prosciutto (Parma), or some thinly cut Tyrolean bacon. Fresh mushrooms and aromatic(!) olives can’t do much harm, either. But please, do not use everything at once, use a rather monothematic approach.

Rule of thumb: No topping-amok! No gyros chunks!

Any topping that’s too intense and heavy deserves banishment: The elegant crust is not meant to be tortured with minced beef, pineapple or tuna. Variations such as the "Quattro Formaggi", the use of four cheeses, usually mutates into a heavy mush, with very little nuances of taste and flavor.

Altogether wrong is any additional overload of toppings, which demote the crust to a mere bystander. For example, chunks of gyros, sausage or god forbid, pineapple, kills each and every elegant flair and flavor of the crust, and no amount of olive oil will fix it.

And the infamous spinach and eggs topping, which was sighted first in 1974 in London, is only optically appealing at best.  Another taste bud-killing version, on the other hand, is the unloving mountain of arugula, with its penetrating and peppery taste, which overpowers the great taste of fresh prosciutto di parma.

Pizza must be celebrated as a delicacy again; enough with the degradation to Fast Food!

To round out an authentic pizza experience, a light wine should be chosen, a wine that compliments and enhances the simple, yet delicate balance of crust and toppings of one of Italy’s finest foods.

During the summer, going with a fruity Rosé is always a good choice, especially if the topping of a great pizza crust is a thinly cut prosciutto. Or perhaps a light red win from the currently out-of-fashion Rhone wineries.

A little piece of history:

The Pizza Margherita, culinary masterpiece of minimalism, was created in 1889 in Naples to honor the visit of Princess Margherita of Savoy. The creation comes from the restaurant of the Neapolitan pizza baker Raffaele Esposito, intended for aristocrats and noblemen with a penchant for bourgeois pleasures. The name "pizza" is probably of Mediterranean/ Middle-eastern origin, deriving from the word "Pita", which means bread.

Original article: http://www.spiegel.de/panorama/0,1518,582538,00.html

« Last Edit: November 16, 2008, 02:27:26 PM by Essen1 »

“All styles of pizza are valid. I make the best I’m capable of; you should make the best you’re capable of. I don’t want to make somebody else’s pizza.” ~ Chris Bianco