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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