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What Is Pizza? - Page 2

post #31 of 46

When you bite into it, and you don't hear "O Sole Mio" playing in you head, it is not a pizza.

 

hai capito? :-)

 

dcarch

post #32 of 46

Even the scarcely topped pizza bianca cooked in the traditional pizza method is a stretch to call it a pie. It's merely seasoned flat bread.

 

Focaccia is definitely bread but the line between the end of focaccia and the beginning of pizza is pretty fuzzy and broad.

post #33 of 46
Thread Starter 

Who are we to try to say what is and isn't a pizza?

 

Interesting outlook, Tyler.

 

Who are we to say what is and isn't a meat loaf? Or a ragout of beef? Or a chicken paprikash? Or a pan-fried trout? Or, just to bring it home, a shrimp-stuffed mirliton?

 

A word or phrase either represents a specific dish (or a related group of such dishes, or a style of preparing such dishes) or it doesn't. If I say "meatloaf" you immediately have a mental image of what that means. And 99% of the people hearing that word will have a mental image that's so similar as to make no never mind. That's how we use language to communicate.

 

As we've seen, however, if I say "pizza" it creates a diversity of images, many of which are totally dissimilar. Which means that there's no such thing as pizza after all (which, no doubt, will come as a hardship to every college student in the U.S.)

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #34 of 46
Thread Starter 

Koukouvagia, one question:

 

If I make a chicken pot pie, but leave off the top crust, is it then a pizza?

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #35 of 46
Thread Starter 

Focaccia is definitely bread but the line between the end of focaccia and the beginning of pizza is pretty fuzzy and broad.

 

Phil, doesn't that fly in the face of your earlier contention that the crust and toppings have to be baked together?

 

Anyone I know who uses focaccia as the base starts with it already baked, adds the toppings, and rebakes it. In short, no different than English muffin pizza.

 

Question: if you start out to make, say, an olive focaccia, is the finished product bread? Or is it pizza?

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #36 of 46


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Siduri, what I'm actually asking is if there really is some thing called pizza.

 

I know it's origins, and the way it was made in Naples. And I know what was meant by pizza when I was growing up. Pizza (or pizza pie, as it was called): which, i guess, would mean "pie pie"

 

1. Was purchased in an Italian restaurant that mostly specialized in it, although other dishes were available. If you grew up in New York (as I did) you could also buy it as locations that specialized in selling it by the slice. There were no chains in those days.

2. Was built on a yeasted flat bread which was formed by stretching, not rolling. This produced a thin, slightly chewy crust, usually with a thicker bread-line ring around the edge.

3. Had a limited number of toppings. These always included tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Other common ones were pepperoni, mushrooms, and assorted veggies. And, of course, anchovies.

 

In short, it was one variation or another of Neopolitan pizza. No problems.

 

When I lived in Boston, a similar condition prevailed. Naturally, being a New Yorker I wasn't allowed to admit it, but some of the best pizza I've ever eaten was in the North End.Why didn't I know you lived in Boston.  My mother grew up in the north end. 

 

So, I thought I knew what pizza was.

 

Then I moved to the Chicago area. First time we had pizza it was unusual. The crust was thin, crispy, and had no bread edge. It was cut in little squares instead of wedges as it's supposed to be. Well, what they call "pizza a taglio" here, (cut-type pizza) is cut in squares, i believe piantadosi's had that in the NE in boston back then - but it's baked on a large rectangular baking pan, and sold in small shops without seats, wrapped with half the piece sticking out so you can eat it on the street, or wrapped to take home.  But here, that pizza is pretty thick and sturdier than the round pizza.   And the less said about the toppings the better. And we discovered that thing called deep dish pizza. Deep dish, as I've said before, can be very tasty. But to me it's a casserole, not a pizza. Others, obviously, disagree.Well, here, you're talking about american pizza. right?  The thing is that names are what we use them for, and words change meaning over the centuries - "awful" meant full of awe - and "silly" meant holy - and "buxom" meant pliable.  Now they mean something very different.  Crossing cultures is even more radical and fast a change - in italian "basket" means basketball and "night" means night club and "golf" means pullover.    Like "pepperoni" - in italian "peperone" means pepper (bell pepper to be precise).  What americans call "pepperone" is called "salame piccante" here - hot salami.  So let them call Chicago deep dish pizza "pizza" if they want. 

 

And then I visited southern California, and was exposed to things like pizza topped with Canadian bacon and pineapple, and a host of other weird toppings. And the crust was usually rolled, rather than stretched, giving it a totally different consistency.  Aha, in Rome the crust is usually paper thin, somewhat crispy, and rolled.  I thought that was a sign of inauthentic pizza when i first came here, but it's just roman pizza.  In all the rest of italy, as far as i know it's stretched.  Certainly in Naples it is, where it is much thicker. 

 

Now, on this thread, we have a number of opinions that are so diverse as to make the word "pizza" meaningless as a specific culinary term.  I wouldn't say so, since the variations in the Land of Pizza are also so diverse as to be unrecognizable too sometimes, except that they all have a bread dough base and some savory toppings (though white pizza with nutella has become popular lately over here). 

 

When you were in Turkey did you get to enjoy lamejun? Seems to me, most of the participants on this thread would consider that to be a pizza.  Yeah, that's why i didn't get it, since it looked too much like pizza and i wanted to eat stuff i don't usually find.  I did get a form of white pizza with my meal once and another time a form of freshly-cooked puffy, hollow-inside pita (I believe that's what they called pida, but i'm not sure). 


 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #37 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Focaccia is definitely bread but the line between the end of focaccia and the beginning of pizza is pretty fuzzy and broad.

 

Phil, doesn't that fly in the face of your earlier contention that the crust and toppings have to be baked together?

 

Anyone I know who uses focaccia as the base starts with it already baked, adds the toppings, and rebakes it. In short, no different than English muffin pizza.

 

Question: if you start out to make, say, an olive focaccia, is the finished product bread? Or is it pizza?

 

Actually, I think it illustrates more why I think Pizza is a sandwich. The issue of how it is baked was to differentiate it from the Hot Brown though of course ingredients and flavor to enter into it too.

 

To say that pizza dough is crust when topped and bread when not seems untenable to me. It's bread either way so what's on it makes it a sandwich.

post #38 of 46
KY, I had a Lebanese friend at university that would make sfiha, or Lebanese pizza (as he would refer to it). My understanding is it's the same thing as lamejun, right?
"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #39 of 46

I thought there was a dough thickness differentiation between sfiha and Lahmajoun.  To what degree I'm unclear.

I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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post #40 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Who are we to try to say what is and isn't a pizza?

 

Interesting outlook, Tyler.

 

Who are we to say what is and isn't a meat loaf? Or a ragout of beef? Or a chicken paprikash? Or a pan-fried trout? Or, just to bring it home, a shrimp-stuffed mirliton?

  


 

Precisely! The only difference would be in those dishes that describe their ingredients, i.e. chicken paprikash, pan-fried trout, shrimp-stuff mirliton. If you were to take clams and stuff them inside of an acorn squash, that would not be shrimp-stuffed mirliton. I think that goes without saying. However, we can turn to the example used in another thread. What is pesto? Any sauce made with basil, oil, pine nuts, salt, garlic, and hard cheese, regardless of the method of combining? Or is it a sauce made from combining herbs, nuts, garlic and oil in a mortar & pestle? Who are we to say what is and isn't pesto? If it's pesto to you, then it's pesto. However, referring to an exact dish is a different story, i.e. pesto genovese.

 

All that to say that I'm very open to different dishes being considered pizza. In the end, if it tastes good, does it matter what it's called? 

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #41 of 46
Thread Starter 

If you were to take clams and stuff them inside of an acorn squash, that would not be shrimp-stuffed mirliton.

 

Perhaps so. But what if we generalized it, the way pizza is generalized, and I said "stuffed squash." You'd still draw a mental image of some kind of squash (acorn, mirliton, zucchine) with a filling. Any difference of opinion would be the type of squash and what went into the filling.

 

In the end, if it tastes good, does it matter what it's called? 

 

Only if we want to communicate meaningfully.

 

If I invited you over for pizza, and served Ana Sortun's nontraditional lamejun of chicken and peaches, wouldn't you be slightly disappointed that it wasn't pizza? Sure, it's a great-tasting dish. But not what you expected.

 

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #42 of 46
Thread Starter 

My understanding is it's the same thing as lamejun, right?

 

I'm not familiar with sfiha, Tyler, so can't say. But, given the deep Turkish influence on Lebanese food, it would surprise me that they are pretty close, if not exactly the same.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #43 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Only if we want to communicate meaningfully.

 

Which is why it's important, as I said, to differentiate the ingredients. I think we're arguing the same point, just from a different perspective (and we all know how important perspective is, right?). In the end, "pizza" means nothing. There are so many interpretations that it's important to be specific, instead of using ambiguous language. I guess that's why you never see "Casserole" or simply "Pie" on the menu. It's all about the description.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #44 of 46
Thread Starter 

Why didn't I know you lived in Boston. 

 

I guess it just never came up before, Siduri. Three years, in the late '60s. That was before they moved Haymarket Square and the wholesale meat market away so that Fanuil Hall could be turned into a tourist trap. It was a great time for at-home entertaining, given the food prices.

 

As a matter of fact, I wrote one of the first stories ever about Freedom Trail---which gives you an idea how far back that really was.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #45 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

Koukouvagia, one question:

 

If I make a chicken pot pie, but leave off the top crust, is it then a pizza?


Yes I believe the technical term for this is pizza pot pie.
 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #46 of 46

Good topic   I've made a lot of different pizzas throughout my career.  I'm a bit of a traditionalist on many things, yet I abhor obstinate intolerance of experimentation or deviation from tradition in many cases.  I'm still not exactly sure why I draw the line a lot of the time, other than it has to do with my personal expectation of what something ought to be.  The traditionalist in me recognizes pizza napoletana as the one true concept of pizza, but even that gets fuzzy, depending on if you're in Naples or Rome.  There's something in my own mind that always brings everything back to the pizza Margherita as the single most true variation, but I realize that's my own perception, and nothing for a dictionary.  For my most loose interpretation, I think of pizzas as having to consist of all of four characteristics, or possibly the equivalent representation of all of four characteristics, but they have to be very good representations in my opinion:

 

1. Yeast-based crust (as KCZ defined it, and I agree, but I would elaborate that I personally think the crust should be a rolled/stretched sheet of glutinous bread dough, to be baked with the spread and toppings in place)

2. A spread which acts to marry toppings and crust (like any good spread, it should serve to both moisten the dish and "protect" the base layer, preserving and enhancing texture)

3. toppings - consisting of at least one type of cheese

4. all baked in a "gratin" style  -  I'm not sure of a better way to describe it, since the cheese doesn't necessarily have to caramelize, that's just how I prefer it usually, and it's just a matter of time exposed to the heat, really.  I prefer a traditional approach to cooking pizza as well, with a preheated bottom cooking surface for direct conduction, as well as a high temperature indirect conduction from the surrounding air, but I think that's a preference, and not a necessary defining characteristic. 

 

Deconstructionists would have a field day with my personal guidelines, I know.  But that's my own opinion on it.  If a deconstructionist can drastically deviate from those guidelines and still convince me that what I am eating captures the essence of a good pizza, I would gladly give them praise, but I am still not sure I would call it pizza.  I would most likely stubbornly refer to it as a deconstructionist representation of pizza, or possibly a reminder of pizza.

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