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Peter’s Blog, August 8th — Alright, Controversy!!

Written By Peter Reinhart
Thursday, 09 August 2012 Peter's Blog

I’m packing and getting ready for the big book launch over the next two weeks in SF and the Bay Area, so will keep this short.  The schedule is listed below in my previous Peter’s Blog, if any of you can make it to any of the classes or book signings. There are still a few seats left for the classes but you’ll have to call the venues for more info.

But this week I think we’re going to have to address the controversy that emerged in the Comments section of my last posting, thanks to someone named Scott007 and a few other voices, including another Scott — Scott123. It’s actually kind of exciting — apparently, I’ve pissed a few people off and am not sure why but would sure like to find out what I did (if you aren’t up to speed, please check out the Comments thread in the recent Peter’s Blog — last time I checked there were 14 comments).  So, what I’d like to do is open up the discussion here on this posting, via a new Comments section, the one on this posting, and ask any and all of you to chime in.  If I’ve trashed NY pizza culture, as Scott123 accuses, or passed on misinformation about pizza methodology or dough science, let’s get it all on the table so we can clear it up.  Scott(s), how about getting specific and make your case — I hear that 123 is a well respected pizza authority so maybe I have something to learn from you. None of us have a monopoly on the whole truth and Pizza Quest was created to be a forum for the sharing of our mutual pizza journeys and celebration of artisanship. I’m open to learn from you but also would like to know the actual specifics of where you think I went wrong, rather than generalized attacks.  The only rule for this discussion is civility — I reserve the right to edit out ad hominum attacks, unnecessary language, and nasty language.  But differences of opinion — sure, I’m okay with that. So, for those who want to play along, go ahead and express yourselves — but let’s do it respectfully, please.

I won’t be posting another Peter’s Blog till I return at the end of the month, but will try to join in the Comments section from the road if my i-Pad and local WiFi will allow it. In the meantime, let’s get to the heart of it — we’re on a search for the truth (or, perhaps, truths). Let the discussion begin….

 

Comments

Scott123

Write for the non-obsessive audience, obviously, but, in a gentle way, foment obsession.

How many home bakers have the type of schedule that will allow them to make the dough the day before? Let’s face it, making the dough a day before is a bit of a hassle. BBA spells it out crystal clear: day before dough is superior. Regardless of it’s blatant superiority, you don’t lay down any hard and fast rules in American Pie. You don’t beat anyone over the head. It’s just a gentle coax. You plant a seed. “This can be great… but if you want to go that extra mile…” Making dough the day before doesn’t rank too terribly high on the obsession scale, but it’s still that extra effort, a little more love- the same way that you gently coaxed your readers into longer fermentation in American Pie, you can also dance around the merits of better flours and faster bake times/superior hearth materials today.

Scott123

There will be many that read this and think I’m being petty. I’m sure there’s some bagel bakery somewhere saying “So what if I don’t boil the bagels first, get off my back!” When defending cultural treasures, you have to split these kinds of hairs. At the end day, as much as I’ve whined and moaned about misinformation, we wouldn’t be having this conversation had 4 small things been said a little differently in your book: Less water in the sauce, 1/16″ thickness rather than 1/4″, a comment about great NY pizza using bromated flour and taking only 4-6 minutes to bake, and, rather than listing bake times in the recipes, just saying “bake as fast as your oven setup will allow.” That’s it. You could have gone to every Ray’s in New York and I would still, for the most part, have been your biggest fan.

Scott123

And, FINALLY, if you’ve made it this far, you have my sincerest gratitude. Thank you for taking the time to read all of this. Honestly, I really did spend a great deal of time whittling it down. I thought about splitting it up into multiple parts, but came to the conclusion that pulling the bandage off all at once was the best way forward.

Thank you, again, for your willingness to initiate this dialog. As new members on Pizzamaking.com ask questions about how they can improve the results from a Reinhart NY recipe (and there are literally countless questions along these lines), I will still continue to steer them towards something a little more authentic, but, at the same time, I will do so in a far more respectful manner.

Yours, in Pizza,

Scott123

peter

I’m loving everything I just read (catching up tonight, while in SF, beginning back in the #50’s all the way through to Scott’s sign off at #93). But now it’s after 1 AM and I’m totally fried (and not just by Scott, Pappy, and Tony but jet lag, the beginning of the book teaching tour, and a general lack of sleep and, hey, maybe I’m just getting too old for all this running around). Just wanted to say thank you before I crash, and I promise to write more when I wake up. I have to track down a copy of American Pie tomorrow and re-read that sauce recipe. Did I really say 14 oz. of water? I’m so embarrassed — oy!!! But Scott, I’m so glad you were able to get all that off of your chest; Pappy and Tony too. I’ll address the big points when I can see the keyboard in single keys instead of this triplicate, free floating mirage. But guys, thanks — I’m honored that you care so much to lay it all out there. More soooon….

Norma

Peter,

Thanks so much for giving everyone the opportunity to discuss NY style pizzas and what might be happening with them.

I also would like to get into to conversation. I have been trying different formulations for NY style pizzas, for over 3 years and learn with each experiment. I also have a pizza blog that charts my progress with NY style pizzas and other pizza styles.

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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.

Peter’s Books

American Pie
Artisan Breads Every Day
The Bread Bakers Apprentice
Brother Junipers Bread Book
Crust and Crumb
Whole Grain Breads

...and other books by Peter Reinhart, available on Amazon.com