Enzo & Me
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.