Into the Fire Blog

For those who burn to learn

16

Jul 2013

Home Is Where The Hearth Is

Posted by / in Into the Fire Blog /

At the end of our dining room stands a beautiful stone fireplace.  The outside chimney and the interior of the fireplace is lined with brick. The facade facing the dining room is decorated with Maine granite blocks and cobblestones, smooth rocks and sentimental trinkets we collected over time from our favorite Maine beaches. Although, it is not a massive fireplace, everyone loves it. It complements the furnishings in the room, it works like a charm (You can even string roast a duck in it), it’s delightful to gaze upon and it keeps us warm and enchants us all winter. It was built by two of my favorite men: Ben Cable, local brick mason and brick oven designer and Lenny Van Gaasbeek, a true Maine artist who has a special affinity for stone. Of course, when I decided to build a pizza oven, I knew who to call.

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12

May 2013

It All Began in Napoli

Posted by / in Class Essentials, Into the Fire Blog /

People often ask me why I traveled all the way to Naples, Italy to study pizza making. Sometimes, because of the tone of their voices, I have felt these inquisitive folks were leaving other, more pointed questions unspoken:
1. Is pizza making so complex that you need to leave the USA to learn the skills?

2. Aren’t there tons of pizza joints and pizza schools in every town in America that do an adequate job?

3. There is a shortage of pizzaiolos in Italy right now. Are you trying to get work in Italy?

 I actually find relevant, pointed questions refreshing–so here are my answers.

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11

May 2013

Enzo & Me

Posted by / in Class Essentials, Into the Fire Blog /

My mentor in Naples, Enzo Coccia, is a  proud man. He is proud to be a fourth generation pizzaiolo, proud that he has two pizzerias with ovens built to exacting standards by the famous forno, Stefano Ferrara, proud that his pizzas  have earned him an international reputation for excellence and authenticity, and proud that his good press has led Americans like me to fly all the way to Naples to be his  student. The only thing he is not proud of is his inability to speak English fluently.

Since I do not speak Italian fluently, we often did not easily understand each other, especially when our lessons first began and this greatly frustrated Enzo. Often, while I would be trying to slap down the soft dough the way he had just modeled Enzo would say to me in his broken English: “This…..(and he would point to my fingernails that were never short enough for him) PROBLEM!” and he would emphasize the word “problem” by saying it very loudly. My dear teacher’s high standards were only matched by his impatience and since it seemed to give him a certain pleasure to release his frustration frequently, I often liked to pretend I didn’t understand him, when in fact, I knew perfectly well what he wanted from me.

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