General Discussion

On Neapolitan Pizza

SteveG | Nov 3, 201005:33 PM     42

Warning: high horse.

I think Neapolitan pizza is one of the most confusing types of food for foodies, and I use that term with some sarcasm. The real thing is a very particular beast, made with minimal ingredients and a crust that is everything the average American doesn't want in a pizza. On one side, you have influential food bloggers who know what it is supposed to be, who geek out over the details, and reward the dedication of particular hard-working pizzaiolos with positive press on their blogs. On the other side, you have legions of people who read food blogs, who think they're seriously knowledgeable about food, yet are ultimately so ignorant that they think that their platonic ideal of pizza, formed in their youth in a booth in Dominos, should match some food blogger's recommendation of an excellent Neapolitan pizza. When they don't like it, the cognitive dissonance is hard to take, and they must ask themselves: is the well-known food blogger who recommended this place wrong? Is my palette wrong? Are my tastes pedestrian? Do I just not get it? Is the restaurant overrated?

Some go quietly into the night, some wake up and try to learn more, and some go out and scream from the rooftops through their keyboards that Pizzeria Napoli Number Nine is overrated.

I have been, at some point, each of those people.

I say all this as someone who in part thinks Neapolitan pizza is not nearly as good as many other styles of pizzas, someone who has eaten them at the "best" places in Napoli, yet still someone who enjoys the sensory memory triggered by a real Neapolitan-style pizza, that can bring back memories of gritty, thieving, criminal Napoli, with its beautiful museums, amazing shellfish, and nutella-filled bombolini warmed up in microwaves, in the way of the local tradition.

Can we all just have a moment of sanity, and agree that the true Neapolitan Pizza is not really a crowd pleaser? That it is a bit eccentric and odd, in the way that a perfectly good donut, subjected to a microwave, is a bit odd? That it might satisfy you in certain ways, but leave you wanting something a little different in other ways?

Can we also agree that the proliferation of pizzas made in wood ovens is a Good Thing, to borrow a phrase from Martha? That putting good fresh mozzarella on pizzas, rather than fake pre-shredded cheese, is a good thing? That we don't all have to like the same things?

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