Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian
Johns, Pamela Sheldon
Jung, Richard G.
Ten Speed Press
Published: October 1, 1999
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Pamela Sheldon Johns is a connoisseur of the best Italian foods. Following up on her definitive books, Parmigiano!, about the queen of cheeses, and Balsamico!, about the artisanal vinegar that has enchanted cooks everywhere, Johns has
written Pizza Napoletana! to tempt us with what is arguably the most authentic and best pizza in the world.
Neapolitans claim pizza was created in Naples during the 18th century. While it had plenty of forerunners (since every civilization growing
wheat had some kind of hearth-baked flat bread), it is indeed a recorded fact that Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba, the first pizzeria, opened in the heart of Naples in 1830. Neapolitans are so fiercely protective of the quality of their pizza that, as Johns
explains, a university professor assembled a 42-page document precisely detailing every requirement for making this specialty. He then spearheaded the movement which achieved a D.O.C., an official, government definition of what this pizza must be.
Happily, la vera pizza Napolitana can made anywhere in the world, provided one meets these specifications for the flour, cheese, tomatoes, and techniques to be used.
Following a detailed history, and the explanation of the D.O.C. requirements,
Johns describes how to make both the classic Marinara pizza, topped with tomatoes, oil, oregano, and garlic, and the true Margherita, a pie garnished with tomatoes, oil, mozzarella, and basil. In all, she provides 50 pizza recipes. For authenticity, some
require the mozzarella di bufala used in Naples and also exported, while others use fior di latte, what Italians call cow's milk mozzarella. Still others are pizza bianca, like the Pizza con Aglio Arrostito, topped with just-roasted garlic and fresh
rosemary, and pies made in other regions of Italy, such as Schiacciata, the Tuscan flat bread often called focaccia.
The work of making an authentic Neapolitan pizza is simple. However, for best results, either a wood-burning oven or a pizza stone
to place in a conventional oven is called for. Johns explains how to deal with this. The many tempting color photos in Pizza Napoletana! can persuade you that her suggestions are worth pursuing. --Dana Jacobi
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