On the subject of pizza, there is never a shortage of opinions. Allegiances run from the general (Chicago versus New York style, Neapolitan versus Roman) to the particular (Pepe’s versus Sally’s, Gino’s East versus Pizzeria Uno), and new interpretations ever extend the pizza frontier.In AMERICAN PIE, master bread baker Peter Reinhart follows the trail from Italy to the States, capturing the stories behind the greatest artisanal pizzas of the Old World and the New. Beginning his journey in Genoa, Reinhart scours the countryside in search of the fabled focaccia col formaggio. He next heads to Rome to sample the famed seven-foot-long pizza al taglio, and then to Naples for the archetypal pizza napoletana. Back in America, the hunt resumes in the unlikely locale of Phoenix, Arizona, where Chris Bianco of Pizzeria Bianco has convinced many that his pie sets the new standard in the country. The pizza mecca of New Haven, grilled pizza in Providence, the deep-dish pies of Chicago, California-style pizza in San Francisco and Los Angeles—these are just a few of the tasty attractions on Reinhart’s epic tour. Returning to the kitchen, Reinhart gives a master class on pizza-making techniques and provides more than 60 recipes for doughs, sauces and toppings, and the pizzas that bring them all together. His insatiable curiosity and gift for storytelling make AMERICAN PIE essential reading for those who aspire to make great pizza at home, as well as for anyone who enjoys the thrill of the hunt.
Reviews“Peter Reinhart has taken a deep look into pizza, one of the best and simplest of foods, embracing all its variety. He probes American pizza especially, but he has tasted the original in Naples and visited elsewhere in Italy to learn about variations and relatives. He tells vivid stories, and his recipes and techniques are thorough and practical. A splendid book.”—Edward Behr, editor, The Art of Eating“I doubt whether anyone else could be as passionate as Peter Reinhart about pizzas or have made such extensive and exciting journeys in pursuing them. He has collected great anecdotes and wonderfully detailed recipes in the course of his intercontinental hunt.”—Alan Davidson, author of The Oxford Companion to Food“We all know that Peter Reinhart is a great baker and teacher, but now that he’s fallen in love with pizza, we can see he’s also a great tour guide as he takes us to the best pizzerias in Italy and America. Secrets are divulged, expert tips provided, and stories told. Much more than a collection of recipes, this is a book that is as fun to read as it is to bake from.”—Carol Field, author of The Italian Baker
Baking bread is mysterious enough. But creating truly great pizza–the transformation of next to nothing into something extraordinary–is downright alchemical. It is for no small reason that there are distinct words in Italian for those disciples of these mystic arts who bake pizza and focaccia, pizzaiolo and focacciaiolo. Peter Reinhart, he who gave us Brother Juniper’s Bread Book and the multi-award winning The Bread Baker’s Apprentice, takes the reader of American Pie: My Search for the Perfect Pizza right into the heart of the matter.
Reinhart begins his inquiry into pizza with his baseline palate memory for what a great pizza should be. As a teenager he had worked in a pizzeria, Mama’s, and instinctively knew this pie to be the best. Returning as an adult years later, he discovered otherwise. Had he changed, or had the pizza changed? Both, it happened, were true.
So what is the nature of perfection, and where do you go to find it? In the case of Peter Reinhart, this journey includes travels through Italy and across the US. This is Part One of the book, called The Hunt. It’s not the most enlivening travel writing, which would have helped elevate the insights into the nature of great pizza and the people who make it happen. But it’s only a third of the entire package. The best is yet to come. In Part Two: The Recipes, Reinhart comes entirely into his own. Here is the master at work. Chapters include “The Family of Doughs”, “Sauces and Specialty Toppings,” and “The Pizzas.” Reinhart gives you the building blocks, no matter what your kitchen, tools, and oven might be like. And then he unfolds the roadmap–pizzas from the strictly classical to the strictly whimsical.
Work diligently with American Pie and in time you will be able to call yourself, without hesitation or rising color, pizzaiolo and focacciaiolo. –Schuyler Ingle
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