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Pizza Movement in the USA: Ingredients

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A Brief History of Neapolitan Pizza

Neapolitan pizza, or “pizza Napoletana,” has its roots in the bustling streets of Naples, Italy, dating back to the 18th century. Originating as a humble food for the poor, Neapolitan pizza was an affordable and flavorful meal made with simple, local ingredients: soft wheat flour, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil. The Margherita pizza, one of the most iconic versions, was allegedly created in 1889 to honor Queen Margherita of Savoy, featuring toppings representing the colors of the Italian flag: red tomatoes, white mozzarella, and green basil. The art of Neapolitan pizza-making has been passed down through generations, adhering to strict traditional methods that ensure authenticity. These include a specific dough-making process that involves long fermentation, hand-stretching the dough, and baking in a wood-fired oven at high temperatures for a brief period, resulting in a distinctively soft and elastic crust with a characteristic char. In 1984, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was established to protect and promote the “true Neapolitan pizza,” codifying its ingredients and preparation methods. The global spread of Neapolitan pizza began in earnest in the mid-20th century, with Italian immigrants introducing it to new regions, particularly the United States. Today, Neapolitan pizza enjoys worldwide popularity, celebrated for its rich history, cultural significance, and exquisite simplicity that continues to enchant pizza lovers around the globe. In 2017, UNESCO recognized the art of Neapolitan pizza-making as an intangible cultural heritage, further cementing its place as a culinary treasure.

Neapolitan Pizza Movement

In the USA, the Neapolitan pizza movement began gaining traction in the early 2000s, as American chefs and pizzaiolos traveled to Italy to learn the craft from master pizzaiolos. They returned with a passion to recreate the authentic Neapolitan experience, leading to the establishment of dedicated Neapolitan pizzerias in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Chicago. These establishments often feature traditional wood-fired ovens capable of reaching the high temperatures necessary for baking Neapolitan pizza, resulting in a distinct charred and blistered crust.

Essential Ingredients: Choosing the Right Type

Essential Ingredients

Flour: Choosing the Right Type

  • Caputo 00 Flour: Understanding its importance in Neapolitan pizza.
  • Protein Content: How it affects the dough texture and elasticity.
  • Alternative Flours: Exploring options like all-purpose, bread flour, and whole wheat for different results.
  • Sourcing Flour in the USA: Where to find authentic Italian flour and suitable American alternatives.

Tomatoes: The San Marzano Tradition

  • San Marzano Tomatoes: Why these tomatoes are the gold standard.
  • Canned vs. Fresh: When to use each and how to prepare them.
  • Substitutes: Best alternatives if San Marzanos aren’t available.
  • Buying Guide: Tips for selecting the best quality tomatoes.

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