PIZZA PALOOZA

March 19, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

THE PIZZA PALOOZA

 

Having recently returned from a trip to Italy, I thought most people would ask about art, history, and maybe politics.

Instead, the first question I heard was usually, "So, how was the pizza"?

Given my own pizza-loving proclivities it was heart-warming to see that people had their priorities right.

Yet words failed me.

You can only say so much about spices, tastes, and technique, before eyes glaze over.

So I decided, especially since this is a photography site,

to let the pies speak for themselves.

 



In Italy, one size fits all. Everybody gets their own pie.

These in Milan were some of the best.

 

Lactose intolerant-- and forgot your lactaid pills?

Get the "marinara"  - no cheese - but the sauce was to die for.

 

What's unusual about this next one from Florence?

The anchovies?

Nope.

It's the fact that it came sliced.

Usually they do not.

Your own knife, fork, and conviction typically provide that service.

 

Here's another one from Florence.

Each slice with it's own topping.

The style generally throughout the country

is typically to cook them well done.

 

And you'll notice the pies are never served on metal trays.

Every pizza is brought to the table on an individual plate.

This one from Tuscany has a crispier crust than most,

a luscious sauce, and

homemade mozzarrela.

 

Even though most restaurants have pizza on the menu,

The best pizzas are found in pizzerias

where it is considered an art form.

 

The pizza-makers--

finessing the deal with a twist of the wrist--

and the wood-fired oven-- are the stars of the show.

 

The following slices can be found anywhere.

You've had them or something like them before.

Common. Sometimes regrettable.

If hungry, sure, such things will make you less hungry.

 

And here's proof, despite the fact that 

Italy is a pizza paradise,

it is no Nirvana.

Probably the worst I had, in Naples of all places,

the reputed birthplace of the species,

is this one that was, honestly, inedible.

They actually served it like that.

Here's a white,

from the ancient walled city of Montepulciano in the heart of Tuscany.

with locally sourced sausage and broccoli rabe.

Visually it doesn't charm like some of the others,

but the word "delectable" comes to mind.

 

But at the more fashionable extreme is this "pizzalonga".

Also from Montepulciano.

Fresh barrata, locally grown tomatoes, and pesto.

Artful. Robust. Unforgettable.

Most pizzerias use locally sourced ingredients

and their doughs are often a unique blend of flours.

 

But further south in Naples,

the pies are more familiar,

characterized collectively in my mind, as "urban" pizza,

which is the best I can do to capture the mood.

Ardent. Savory. Bold.

Memorable.

Here's one from the Quartieri Spagnoli

section of Naples.

Well done as most are

and augmented with the Spanish flare,

the palate was left tingling for...

I want to say days. :)

 

Further south in Salerno on the Amalfi coast,

we have this tasty morsel. A white pie. Humble,

perfectly seasoned, and like most throughout the country,

a paper thin crust that cooks in 2-3 minutes with

a soft crust and no crunch that melts in your mouth.

 

And finally, returning north to Venice, we have these two beauties.

The first, cooking in the usual range of 330-400 degrees,

it is graced with anchovies, olives, and capers.

The second, with fresh tomatoes and shaved

pecorino and parmesan was a rare find.

 

 

 

 I believe it's fair to say, that despite declarations by the critics, there is no "best" anywhere.

It's mostly a matter of opinion, taste, and preference.

The caveat being of course, sure, some are better than others.

From location to location, kitchen to kitchen, the prep and cooking styles differ.

Pizza in the States is equally as good as in Italy.

Just different.

The obvious differences?

Generally speaking, Italian pies are thinner,

(use a knife and fork because it's hard to pick up the slices until the end),

they cook more quickly (2-3 minutes)

the crusts are soft not crispy (likely due to the water and doughs)

the flavors are often more subtle,

and the ingredients are frequently fresh and locally sourced, (often times homemade/grown).

This of course is a generalization.

A good pie, anywhere in Italy or in the States

is a treasure to behold.

THE END

 


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