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Neapolitan pizza: let’s debunk clichés and certainties of the fundamentalists

Pride and roots are important, but you can find a good Neapolitan pizza also outside Naples

Column by Antonio Fucito — 9 months ago

Neapolitan pizza is undoubtedly one of Italy’s pride: soft, tasty, easy to bite, has won over the palates of people from every social class, who don’t mind to try it wherever they are, up to the point of trying making it at home.

This pride, however, sometimes translates into some fundamentalisms that actually cause “damage” to its very diffusion in every corner of the Earth.

Then, let’s debunk a myth: in many other countries, such as Japan, there are excellent pizzerias and good pizza chefs, Italian and otherwise, able to make a pizza that doesn’t make you regret being hundreds (thousands!) of km away from your homeland..

Which are these myths I’m talking about?

THE REAL DEAL IS ONLY IN NAPLES

Put it in this way it means basically nothing, but you have no idea how many times I’ve read/heard this statement on a social network’s post or conversing with other people.
First of all, what do they mean by “real”? We agree that a historical place, the experience of the pizza maker and very fresh ingredients can give that boost which is not only about the flavour, but all the atmosphere around. The Homeland, as we said, the mecca that all the passionate pizza lovers feel the need to visit one day.

That said, in 2019 distances have been shortened, products travel quickly, there’s no lack of (some) local alternatives, our pizza chefs have left to take over the world, and the other pizza makers coming from other countries have studied the basics of how to make a pizza maybe coming to Campania indeed.
This is the good side of Neapolitan pizza: it’s a brand you recognize, with no borders but with strong roots. We need to be proud of this, because it’s an excellence that sets Naples and Italy in a prominent position in the world culinary scenario, enhancing the touristic appeal.

Below you can see a Ripieno (pizza with filling) from a Japanese pizzeria and a Margherita cooked in an electric oven.

Ripieno / calzone con salame, ricotta e pepe (Pizzeria Bella Napoli) Margherita con fiordilatte e pomodoro San Marzano

…IT’S ONLY GOOD IF IT COMES FROM A WOOD-FIRED OVEN

I get back to the point above, to underline the incomparable atmosphere of cooking with a live flame, on the aesthetic beauty of an oven built brick by brick, on the smell generated by this type of cooking. Therefore, even agreeing with the statements above, one should not stop at this cliché, as we can have a good product even with a gas or an electric oven well built to sustain the high temperatures. Just think of whoever can’t install an extraction hood, or the skills you need to manage the wood-fired cooking, and all the other related factors.

Long live the diversity of the offer.

IF A MARGHERITA PIZZA COSTS MORE THAN 4-5 EUROS IS A RIP-OFF

This is the most common cliché, uttered by “scientists” who don’t even consider the business dynamics. If, for example, we consider a Margherita with San Marzano tomatoes instead than a generic Italian product there’s a significant food cost difference, but the fundamentalists completely ignore this matter.

Not to mention the surcharge in case of the product export, how much is valued on the market, other costs like the rent of the premises and the regularly paid personnel… All factors that affect differently the final price according to the place where you live. Of course there are people who take advantage of the customers overpricing their product, but that doesn’t mean uttering statements like the one above is always acceptable.

THE NEAPOLITAN PIZZA IS THE ONLY GOOD ONE AND WORTHY OF THAT NAME

We may say that in its best expression is the best of all (which is to me, but it’s still a personal opinion), but there are hundreds of different style of pizzas which are still excellent: from “pizza in pala” to “pizza in teglia”, not to mention the hybrids styles and the fusion made in other countries.
We don’t all like the same things, we eat our pizzas in different ways… And if you really want to be so close minded, don’t be surprised if then people make fun of you.

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