Ok, so as many of you know I spend some time each year in Southern Italy – I have a sizable a love affair with the Country and the food and it also helps that I have a family over there. Italian food in general just knocks me out, the simplicity and attention to fresh, quality ingredients is staggering….but what really, really, really gets me excited is the simple pizza.
The Pizza is an open sandwich…for all intents an purposes…but the alchemy involved in getting it right is one of the most difficult things to achieve. A pizza is just bread, tomato and cheese….how hard could that be?? Well, really hard going by some of the utterly appalling pizzas I have subjected myself outside of Italy!
If, like me you make bread then you’ll understand how much of your own ‘self’ goes into the dough…..dough is filled with life (yeast) and it literally feeds off emotions. That might sound a little etheral and even hippy-ish but it’s pretty true, if I make bread and I’m in a crappy mood it actually effects the dough, it might not rise properly, or prove properly or bake the way I want it to – that’s my emotional fault!
So, goes it with pizza – you go to Pizza Hut – do you think the poor sap working 7bucks and hour is happy in his work….fuck no! You go to a Masseria in Italy where a couple of happy dudes are slinging pizza’s into an authentic wood oven surrounded by eager eaters and you’ll get a different and certainly ‘happier’ Pizza!
There are a few simple rules to making the Pizza.
Be involved, emotionally, in the preparation and development of the dough. Use only the very, very best ingredients you can get your hands on. If you have a perfect dough and you lash on unripe tomato then everything is ruined. If you use substandard Mozzarella but have a great base and sauce……everything is still ruined!
The Pizza is a trinity and if one part is out even slightly out then it’s a washout – simplicity brings difficulty, there is no where to hide!!!
The final and most important ingredient in the making of the perfect Pizza is heat.
Look at this picture. This is a Pizza kitchen in a Masseria in Puglia, Southern Italy. Look at the flame involved here…no think about your take away pizza place and the sterile electric ovens the pizza’s are cooked in!
The pizzas that are cooked in these ovens are cooked in seconds, the instant they touch the stone base in the oven they spring to life, they become something incredible – the trinity of bread, tomato and cheese is given the spark of existence and that right there is what pizza is all about..
This might sound twatty….but..making pizza for me is about creating life.
Now, not everyone can get there hands on a wood oven like this. But, it is possible to cook a pretty decent pizza base in a home oven just ensure that it is hotter than hell in there, put it to it’s highest setting and let it heat for a good 30minutes with nothing in there but a pizza stone or a good slab of marble that you will slide you pizza onto mean it starts cooking instantly!!
If you want a really simple and good Pizza recipe click here for my Rocket and Parma Pizza recipe…..Or…..if you’re near me in Dublin then you can check out a recommendation by a guy I just happen to agree with on quite a lot of foodie things…MrNiall Harbison…check out his review on The Best Pizza in Dublin