uthentic Neapolitan pizza has finally come to the City. Italian oven maker and pizza connoisseur
Marco Cappiotti was in the city to construct a wood fire oven at Brick & Clay. In an exclusive conversation with Dipti Ranjan Das of Orissa POST, he explains the subtleties of preparing delectable Italian pizzas. Excerpts:
Tell us about the origin of pizza.
Pizza is one of the oldest delicacies in the world. It is very different from what we understand now. The tomatoes that are now used in pizzas are not indigenous to Italy. We imported it from America before a couple of centuries. Hence, what is now known as pizza is quite new. There is a proper procedure for making pizzas. However, food firms have introduced their own version of pizzas nowadays. As the item originated in Italy, we can say that Italian Neapolitan pizza is the most iconic and authentic.
How is the Neapolitan variant different from pan fried pizza?
Firstly, Neapolitan pizza is baked in wood fire oven where pizzas remain moist and are smoky flavoured. Even though it is a little burnt on the outside, it’s not dry and is very pleasant to eat. It is meant to be consumed hot and fresh. Pan fried pizza is made in an electric oven and almost all leading pizza chains use this method. These pizzas are stiffer. In fact, slices are quite hard as the doe is loaded with fat. Leading commercial pizza chains don’t take the authentic quality into account as they have a business to run.
What are the top three variants of pizza in Italy?
Neapolitan pizza is the most iconic Italian pizza which is prepared with a slightly thin centre and puffy edges. High quality ingredients, including specific tomatoes (san marzano), are added to this variant. The doe is also prepared in a very specific way (slow fermentation) so that it’s light and easy to digest. We use either cow or buffalo milk mozzarella with a sprinkle of parmesan and basil leaf. Classic Italian pizza is more of a politically correct pizza because it is less burnt and less soft but still moist. The rim is anyway a little thicker while the centre of the pizza is thin. Romana pizza is Italian thin crust pizza. This pizza is cooked for a couple of minutes longer to make the slice a bit stiffer.
Is it true that pizza is not considered as junk food in Italy?
Few years back, an organisation called AVPN (Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana) was set up to maintain the quality and reputation of Neapolitan pizza throughout the world. They have fixed some boundaries of Neapolitan pizza. This is something we Italians are very proud of. As per authentic Italian standards, pizza is not a junk food. Pizza is currently being defined as ‘intangible property for humanity’ and is the first food item to be recognised by UNESCO and is the most iconic food worldwide.
Why do you prefer wood fire oven?
As far as wood fire oven is concerned, I try to stick to Italian standards in terms of cooking. I am trying to manufacture a wood fire oven here which is similar to Italian ones. If you compare my oven to that of electric or gas, the difference is very drastic as you can make average pizzas in electric ovens. Wood fire oven gives a distinct flavour that makes the pizza much more Italian.
What are your thoughts on the pizza market in Bhubaneswar?
I like the prospects here. I am positive about the market being able to understand a type of pizza which they have never tasted before. I am happy that people are willing to experiment something. I am sure Bhubaneswar is not averse to changes. Once they try it for a couple of times, I’m sure they’ll love it and they will come again to taste authentic pizzas at Brick & Clay.