Post # 94 Pizza Is Purely Personal

February 22, 2013 at 11:05 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

First, let me apologize for not posting on Wednesday.  I made a 550 mile round trip that took all day.  Once I got back home, we had several packages arrive at the same time, and with dinner, etc. suddenly there was just no time.  By the time things had calmed down enough for me to sit at the computer, it was after 9pm.  Okay, so on to the blog!

I’ve mentioned a time or two that pizza is some of my favorite food.  Cold pizza is my favorite breakfast.  Curry pizza in Sri Lanka, while funny, is not a good dinner.  On and on.  When I wrote the post about tacos a while ago, one of my followers commented that tacos were a purely personal type of food and everyone likes them differently.  Pizza takes that same concept and squares it.

Pizza starts with the base, the crust.  I’ve always found that if the crust doesn’t taste good, nothing can help that pizza.  The crust needs to be more than just dough.  It has to have flavor.  In Italy, the crust is made with olive oil and has salt.  It’s not too thick or thin, and is the perfect vehicle for conveying the sauce and toppings to the mouth.  I’ve tried a bunch of different recipes and other items as the crust and still haven’t found that perfect crust.

The sauce is made up of a lot of different things.  There’s the traditional red sauce.  Some chefs make a pizza sauce out of just plain tomato sauce.  They paint it onto the crust and add toppings and cheese.  Kind of boring.  Most chefs add herbs and spices and sometimes meat to the red sauce to give it character.  Then there’s the white sauce.  This is just a typical thin béchamel to make a white pizza.  Some chefs add garlic or parmesan to the sauce to give it flavor.  Then there’s the pizza with no sauce.  It’s just cheese and toppings on bread dough.  It’s kind of boring for my taste.  Finally, there’s the pizza with no sauce, but fresh tomato slices are placed on the crust.  Cheese and toppings are added and the tomatoes cook as the pizza cooks.  Creates quite a different flavor profile and can be wonderful.

The amount of sauce on the pizza is a matter of personal preference.  For me, putting too much sauce on the pizza is terrible for two reasons.   First, it burns the inside of your mouth if it’s too hot and with too much sauce the burns can be terrible.  Second, the cheese and toppings are floating on the sauce and usually land on your plate or your lap.  When I order pizza for delivery, I nearly always ask for light sauce, or half sauce.

The cheese on a pizza is important.  It  should be high quality.  Bad quality cheese turns into melted plastic with no taste.  Yum.  I normally put parmesan, cheddar, and mozzarella cheese on my homemade pizzas.  I’ve seen people who’ve put every kind of cheese on a pizza until the oils from the cheese pool in the center.  The most important thing to remember is use high quality cheese.

Toppings on a pizza.  Let’s start the firestorm!  My favorite pizza is a mushroom pizza.  Sometimes I’ll add pepperoni or sausage to it if I want some protein.  In Rome, I used to get Pizza Al Fungi (mushroom pizza) where they put the perfect sauce on the perfect crust with high quality mozzarella and they sliced the mushroom so thin that it covered the entire surface of the pizza and got crispy in the brick oven.  My second favorite pizza is plain cheese.  Nothing else.  You can really put anything on a pizza that you like.  Personal preference is the key.

Pizza sizes are all over the chart, but pretty standardized in restaurants.  There are twelve inch, sixteen inch, 20 inch, and 24 inch.  I just saw a commercial last night where a national pizza chain is offering a new size called pizza sliders.  Looked smaller than the “personal” pizza and looked like fun.

When we were kids, we tried making pizza on toast, on English muffins, on corn or flour tortillas, and multiple other things.  We were looking for non-frozen, convenient pizza that cooked up quick and was delicious.  We never found that right mix, but I gotta say, the English muffin pizza came really close.  Something about the nooks and crannies holding all that sauce with melted cheese on top.  Good stuff.

Finally, there’s a fun pizza that’s been turned inside out.  It’s called a Stromboli.  Roll out the crust, add the sauce, cheese and toppings, fold it over and seal it, bake it, and eat it!!  Omit the sauce and just put cheese and toppings in it and it’s a Calzone.  Something I never understood about Calzone is that it’s made and defined by the omission of the sauce.  Then everyone puts sauce on the side to dip it in.  Huh?  If you want the sauce, put it in!  If you don’t, take it away.

Anyway, enjoy your pizza, have a good time with it, and next week, I’ll have a good recipe for you for a great pizza that’s relatively easy.  Enjoy!

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3 Comments

  1. Born and raised in the Bronx I have to admit I’m a bit of a pizza snob. As a New Yorker we tend to believe our pizza is the best. And I’ll go to the grave swearing Nathan’s franks are THE BEST.
    that being said…yes, pizza is a very relative topic. We tend to love what we grew up with. I have a buddy in Ohio who swears by his local pizza joint. I’ve had it several times and I swear it’s among the worst I’ve ever had.
    Eh…we like what we like. Oh, and for the record…plain cheese please !

  2. ONLY because you said pizza is all about personal preference…i’ll make a confession that will belie my bourgeois tastes. Like you Joe, i’ve eaten pizza all over the world and yes, some of the very BEST pizza i’ve ever had i got in Italy. I don’t have the right equipment nor the time to make pizza from scratch. When i want a quick carry-out pie, i inevitably opt for a personal pan pizza from Pizza Hut…solely for the crust. To my simple tastes, it has flavor and a soft crunch. There…i confessed. lol. mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. 😉
    cheers!

    • Actually, that’s the place that has the pizza sliders!


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