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Pizza is not an easy dish to make. It never has never been, essentially, because it's the result of the precarious balance between several ingredients.
At Fine Dining Lovers we decided to find out more about the basics of what makes a good pizza. And where better to find out, than at the Italian pizza competition ElementiTour, where good pizzas all begin with dough and the best ingredients.
The competition which recently took place in Milan furnished us with some of the golden rules to follow when eating, preparing and ordering a pizza. Too many tomatoes, for example, are likely to make the dough soggy, too thick a base will result in a dense and hard pizza and too much basil will only mask the pizza's other flavours ...
In short, there are certain guidelines to follow in the art of pizza making.
Firstly, we caught up with the S.Pellegrino Young Chef finalist for Italy, Edoardo Fumagalli, who gave us the lowdown on one of pizza's most important aspects: the topping.
1. Quantity of topping
The quality of each individual topping should always take preference over quantity.
Freshness on the palate is very important - not only for pizzas but cooking in general - and it's an aspect that can be achieved by the intelligent use of vegetables as pizza toppings.
A plant component, like salad or aromatic herbs, can also help as they cleanse the mouth and refresh the palate, allowing the palate to appreciate other ingredients.
Don't concentrate on one ingredient, but try to make use of three or four to maximize each of them in the right way.
If you want to have carpaccio on your pizza, don't leave it in slices, but tear it up, so it mixes with the other ingredients instead of overwhelming them.
Secondly we had a chat with an expert on mother dough pizzas, Renato Bosco. He left us in little doubt about the complexity of perfecting the dough. These are his rules:
Making Pizza Dough
Knowledge is the most important ingredient when talking about dough. To achieve perfection, the pizzaiolo needs to develop a dough "culture." Digestibility, organoleptic qualities and taste don't appear magically but are qualities that only emerge with practice.
There is no rule to distinguish if one dough is superior to another. Although "pasta diretto" (dough made with weak flour with a shorter rising time) typical of the south, and the "pasta indiretto" (dough made with stronger flour with a longer rising time) ones of the north can be distinguished from each other. There are two schools of thought, but they must also bear in mind that pizza is something to be protected and is synonymous with Italianity, whatever its regional origin. Experiment, playing with the various available blends, bearing in mind that the digestibility must be one of the key qualities.
The first thing to look at when sitting in a gourmet pizza is the technique for making the dough. The customer must be able to learn how the dough is made that they are going to eat, and only the pizzaiolo can explain that. The pizzaiolo should try to introduce their work on the menu and let the customer become passionate about their pizza.
How to Eat Pizza
Order a Margherita pizza. A simple Margherita pizza is the litmus test of any pizzeria, gourmet or otherwise. If you are a customer, look at the raw materials used - peeled tomatoes, the quality of the olive oil, the type of mozzarella - simplicity is always best and the most difficult to accomplish.
8. Wine Matching
I would suggest a risky combination, but one that has increased in popularity recently: wine.
If the pairing is well-suited, wine can actually enhance the elements of the pizza. For example, sparkling wines are surprisingly suited to drinking with pizza because they refresh the palate.