by Enzo Coccia
I would like to make some considerations on how a preparation, in this case the pizza, can become an excellent or an awful dish using the same ingredients, at the same time and with the same pizza equipment.
For a better understanding let me give you some examples of three type of Neapolitan pizza that are among the most ordered ones: the marinara, the margherita and the margherita with eggplants.
A brief analisys lets us capture some substantial differences which, however, have a profound influence on the quality of the proposed offer.
A simple margherita garnished with fior di latte cheese can be delicious or very bad to the palate. We all know the classic margherita pizza toppings but if we focus carefully on every single ingredient used for preparing it we can find some big differences that strongly affect the quality of the finished product. For example, in the case of fior di latte cheese: if it is cut too thick, with the high temperatures that the Neapolitan wood-burning oven can reach (435°-465°C for the convective heat transfer) it doesn’t string. But, if we use a machine to cut the fior di latte, therefore exerting pressure on it, it will surely be cut evenly but it will lack the whey due to the force applied to it. What will be the result? The fior di latte will be dry. In the oven, at high temperatures, without moisture, the fior di latte will achieve a yellowish colour and a gummy texture. On the other hand, if we hand-cut the fior di latte into julienne strips and we add too much of it to the dough disc, the margherita will remain uncooked in the centre and we will not enjoy the taste of the San Marzano tomatoes, the extra virgin olive oil and the cheese.
The margherita seasoned with the eggplants calls for a special attention. If we optimally fry the eggpalnts, we pan-fry them with the Piennolo cherry tomatoes and we serve them just as a side dish, there are no special expedients to take into account. But if those eggplants are used as pizza toppings, they risk to look like little black charcoal tablets. For garnishing a pizza with the eggplants, you should only partially cook them because the cooking will be completed in the oven.
Making the marinara is a different story. Unlike the margherita, you should add a greater amount of tomato sauce as on the marinara there is the oregano (obviously, the quantity of oregano should not be excessive otherwise it can be found indigestible) which is a dried ingredient, without the moisture content of the mozzarella. For the same reason, you will need to add a little more oil to the marinara than to the margherita, clearly without exaggerating.
Perhaps someone may think that these are obvious processes but it is not at all so! The difference is given by the product knowledge, the full compliance with its use, the technique, the experience, the attention to the production process, the reasoning, the balance of quantities and passion.
Now some people will say: “but it’s a pizza! What’s the big deal with it?”
To these people I answer by quoting Gualtiero Marchesi who, a few years ago, told me: “Enzo behind a recipe that, for a customer, is worth remembering there is a thought”.