Peppe Miele, Part 2, San Marzano Tomatoes
We have 10 webisodes in this interview series with Peppe Miele, so we’ll be covering a lot in the coming weeks. In this segment, Peppe explains a little more about the Vera Pizza Napoletana school of thought, focusing on the famous tomatoes from San Marzano. As you will see, the sauce made from these tomatoes is beautiful (and it tastes as good as it looks, with a fresh, sweet, vibrant flavor) but the whole subject of pizza sauce tomatoes is controversial, especially here in the United States where we grow our own great sauce tomatoes and have many highly regarded brands, and every pizzeria has its own favorite (we here at Pizza Quest tend to be partial to the Bianco-DiNapoli organic tomatoes grown in California which, to our taste, are as good as those grown in San Marzano). Also, as Peppe points out, San Marzano sul Sarno, which is a town in Campania, near Naples (and benefits from the volcanic soil and ash of Mt. Vesuvius), is a very small growing region so there’s no way it could supply everyone — I guess there just aren’t enough volcanoes to go around. But San Marzano tomatoes are an intrinsic part of the cultural identity of pizza Napoletana, and there are an increasing number of pizzerias in America that are bringing them in. These tomatoes also have established a benchmark to which other tomato growers aspire. (By the way, as an aside, my friend Joe Beddia, of Pizzeria Beddia in Philadelphia, and who has just been anointed by Bon Appetite Magazine as making the best pizza in America, uses tomatoes grown in New Jersey, confirming what George Costanza and all the rest of us from Philly, New York, and New Jersey have long known about those fabulous Jersey tomatoes — and they do it without volcanic ash!!).
In the next segment we’ll talk about Italian Double Zero (–00–) flour, but for now, enjoy Peppe Miele and his San Marzano tomatoes!
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