I was fresh off a cross-country flight. I’d arrived at our host's house and started making dough so it would have time to ferment properly. And in the process, I made a mistake. A small one. And I decided to live with it just to see what would happen.
It ended up being some of my best pizza ever.
A lot of pizza newbies get caught in a trap of believing that great pizza is about great dough recipes. But really, great pizza is more about what you do with those recipes and how.
The food-science flavors of billion-dollar corporations vs. big pizza flavor you can make at home. (All it takes is yeast and patience.)
One of Free The Pizza’s apparent fans is a guy named Dean. (That's not his full name, and I don’t want to assume that he’s interested in being identified for all the pizza world to see.)
I need to thank Dean for sending me a quote from a book he’s reading: The Dorito Effect: The Surprising New Truth About Food and Flavor. The quote about skinny, food-loving Italians was interesting, so I bought the book.
The Dorito Effect is about the evolution and societal impact of the flavor industry. Let’s call them Big Flavor. (My words, not the book's.)
The book’s undeniable entertainment value belies a serious note about Big Flavor, modern food science, and how it all impacts you, me, and everyone else.
Have you ever experienced the crunchy, cheesy, fresh-from-the-oven, crowd-pleasing thrill of homemade Detroit-style pizza?
Last week’s anti-political rant about the Detroit pizza served to reporters on Air Force One got me thinking: how many people even understand the thrill that is Detroit-style pizza?
It’s easy to make, comes with an element of crunchy, caramelized high like none other, and it’s a total surprise how much people love it.
I’ve made over 1,000 round, flat pizzas recognizable as some evolution of Neapolitan tradition. And people love them. One guy I know says my pizza has ruined him for any other.
But the few dozen Detroit-style pizzas I’ve made are the ones that make people’s heads snap around in surprise.
Oh, the char of it! Does humanity have any hope left? When they start taking our pizza and injecting it with politics, the situation is dire and requires activism.
I’m speaking, of course, about the Air Force One Detroit Pizza Debacle. If you slept through it (as it deserved), we’ll clarify that for you forthwith.
A lot of political differences in our world could be solved if pizza were involved. You can put people from all political positions around a table with good pizza, and it brings them together.
But leave it to that bastion of high-quality journalism in The City That Never Sleeps to do the opposite, dragging pizza into a fight it didn’t have coming.
Consider this not an exhortation, but gentle encouragement: you’ll find more joy in making homemade pizza when using a scale.
I haven’t offered a simple kitchen tip in a while, so here it comes. Get ready for the ensuing mayhem.
If you’ve spent any time around here, you’ve heard me say it: Scales are not necessary for making pizza. I’ve said as much to pizza pros, who instantly label me a scoffer and a misanthropist. So be it.
Among American home cooks, there’s a clear and resonant hatred of the dreaded kitchen scale. I have a theory for why this is. It’s related to a less-than-stellar education system.
If it's a homemade pizza, can you really say it's New Haven style, is it authentic, or is it just an insult to the gods of "apizza"?
How daring are you, and are you ready for a crazy pizza challenge that sounds easier than it might really be?
Would you like to try making a polarizing form of pizza using a barely tested dough?
First, a short tale, and then some details. (And know those details are all reflected in the pizza in the photo above, which is an actual Free The Pizza Production developed using the methods in question.)
OK. So the guy owns five pizza ovens. Do you trust him when he says, "Don't buy a pizza oven?" (Probably. Even the NY Times called him a pizza influencer.)
Last week, the conversation was pizza inspiration that knows no sane boundaries. And that’s fine. It’s so much better than the tyranny of “Pepperoni or nothing!”
This week, part 2 of our conversation with Serhan Ayhan puts the spotlight on the truth about ovens and the things that matter more. (Flour, anybody?)
And perhaps the most important thing you need for making pizza is free. In fact, it’s impossible to buy…
New England-style Greek pizza? Tangerines? Corn? Chex mix? Here's a homemade pizza adventure like you've never seen...
If you like making pizza, and you want to push the boundaries a little, it’s fun being inspired by other people’s pizzas.
For me, it’s usually the easy-to-find pizzas of high-profile pros like Dan Richer, Chris Bianco or Nancy Silverton.
But there’s a pizza amateur who is may be the single most inspiring pizzamaker I’ve ever witnessed. Serhan Ayhan and I met in Atlantic City at the Pizza & Pasta Northeast (PPNE) trade show. Serhan was there not as a pizzeria pro (though he’s been one), but as an enthusiastic pizza amateur.
By day, Serhan works in financial due diligence with a famous multinational investment bank. You may have seen him and his wife in the New York Times’ Real Estate section in a feature called “The Hunt.” The two stories there detail their hunt for a new home—including an oven big enough to accommodate his pizza peel. (We've all been there, right?)
Year-End Lists Part 2: After my best pizza in Portland was a lucky find, I’m finally approaching the "best pizza" lists with a skeptical eye.
Last week, I talked about hitting five of the top-rated pizza joints in Pizza City USA (AKA Portland, Oregon)—except…
Pizzeria number 5 was a last-minute substitution based on a Google search for the closest pizza joint.
I’d never heard of it, never saw it on any list—and it was the biggest surprise of my two-day pizza expedition.
So, after years of regarding them with suspicion, I’m officially skeptical of the best pizza lists.
Year-End Lists Part 1: Portland, Oregon is the best pizza city in the country--and why you should be wary of "best pizza" lists.
FROM THE “I DO THESE THINGS SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO” FILES…
I’m back, intact and fat, from two days in rainy Portland, Oregon.
I went there because it’s The Best Pizza City In The United States.
I suppose the big question here is: What did I find?
Is the pizza any good? And does the city deserve its reputation for eccentric hipsters?
Blaine Parker is the award-winning author of the bestselling, unusual and amusing how-to pizza book, Free The Pizza. Also known as The Pizza Geek and "Hey, Pizza Man!", Blaine is fanatical about the idea that true, pro-quality pizza can be made at home. His home. Your home. Anyone's home. After 20 years of honing his craft and making pizza in standard consumer ovens across the nation, he's sharing what he's learned with home cooks like you. Are you ready to pizza?
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