Peppe Miele, Part 5, The Oven
We continue our exploration of Vera Pizza Napoletana with our Naples guru Peppe Miele. In this installment we turn to the wood-fired oven that is absolutely essential if you want to get certified as a real deal, verace pizza guy. It’s hard to believe, but important to recall, that only a few years ago in the United States a wood-fired oven siting was a rare and exciting discovery. Little by little they started popping up in high end restaurants (of course, Wolfgang Puck helped when he installed one in the original Spago back in the early 1980’s, but it took another ten years before they really became de rigueur). Of course, in Naples, it’s so much a part of their culinary DNA that the ovens and their humble pizzaioli, are usually hidden in the back of the kitchen, unlike the way they’re showcased here as the star attraction. But, frankly, they should be the star, why not? They’re beautiful, elemental, and so dramatic — they make for great theater! The wood-fired oven movement has been an essential part of the modern American culinary awakening, reintroducing us to cooking with fire, to the primal interaction of flame and flour. Personally, I could stare into a wood-fired oven for days in fascination, and I love watching how ingredients are transformed before my very eyes from one thing into something totally other.
But let’s see what Peppe has to say about his oven (“It can be your best friend or your worst enemy”) before, in upcoming segments (6 through 10), we see how he makes his Margherita, and then a calzone, a pizza Calabrese, and finally a pizza bianca. Onward with Peppe….
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Pizza Quest is a site dedicated to the exploration of artisanship in all forms, wherever we find it, but especially through the literal and metaphorical image of pizza. As we share our own quest for the perfect pizza we invite all of you to join us and share your journeys too. We have discovered that you never know what engaging roads and side paths will reveal themselves on this quest, but we do know that there are many kindred spirits out there, passionate artisans, doing all sorts of amazing things. These are the stories we want to discover, and we invite you to jump on the proverbial bus and join us on this, our never ending pizza quest.
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