The Wood-Fired Blog

Traditionalists and Innovators Square Off in Naples Pizza Debate

This from the Guardian in the UK.

Naples chefs take sides in the ‘ultra pizza’ wars

The opening salvo by the innovator:

Enzo Coccia has an evangelical air as he discusses his spring pizza – piled with asparagus, buffalo mozzarella, sheep’s cheese, lard and beans. “They may say I am a heretic, but I just want to experiment,” says the controversial exponent of the Italian trend for what are being dubbed gourmet, or “ultra-pizzas”.

Quickly followed by up with strong disapproval from the establishment:

“There is no such thing as gourmet pizza, we are not OK with this,” said Sergio Miccu, head of the Neapolitan Association of Pizza Makers, which has secured EU certification for the margherita and another Neapolitan standard, the tomato, garlic and oregano marinara.

This article has particular meaning to me, as I have met Enzo a number of times, have been to his pizzeria, La Notizia, and I’ve even ridden across Naples on the back of his motorcycle (which was truly the experience of a lifetime). He’s a great guy. Still, I can see that the battle lines have been drawn, that reputations and power are stake and there is a great deal to be won or lost.

Will Naples become known for “gourmet” pizza, or remain known as the home of the well-made Margherita pizza?

Personally, I am a traditionalist. I feel as though something similar happened in Tuscany with the “Super Tuscan” wines, which to me were simply developed to cater to consumers with taste for “new world” wines from Napa and Australia. I have never enjoyed the taste of these new age wins, and rather, greatly prefer Chianti Classico and Vernaccia di San Gimignano. I once heard a story from the Italian food editor at About.com, where they had a tasting of Super Tuscan wines in Chianti for the leading Florentine food and wine writers. After sipping their Super Tuscan wines so they could write their reviews, the Italians all pushed them away and went back to drinking Chianti. haha. I can truly picture that.

But to give you an idea of where I am coming from as a traditionalist, I don’t think they should even call the food product that California Pizza Kitchen makes pizza. It’s something; it’s edible. But it isn’t pizza.

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