kottke.org posts about jeffreysteingarten

Why is New York-style pizza so difficultApr 24 2008

Why is New York-style pizza so difficult to replicate in other areas of the world? Perhaps the answer lies with NYC's legendary tap water.

"Water," Batali says. "Water is huge. It's probably one of California's biggest problems with pizza." Water binds the dough's few ingredients. Nearly every chemical reaction that produces flavor occurs in water, says Chris Loss, a food scientist with the Culinary Institute of America. "So, naturally, the minerals and chemicals in it will affect every aspect of the way something tastes."

Update: That legendary tap water was supposedly responsible for NYC-style bagels as well until Finagle A Bagel founder Larry Smith drove some Boston tap water to NYC and compared bagels made with the water from the two cities.

"There was absolutely no difference between them," Smith reported. "What makes the difference is equipment, process and ingredients."

Well, ingredients except water. (thx, darrin)

Update: Jeffrey Steingarten, among others, believes that temperature is the key to great pizza and that coal is the key to great temperatures. (thx, hillel)

Update: I knew we'd eventually end up on Slice...the web's premiere pizza site hosts an account of Jeff Varasano's attempt to reverse engineer a NYC pizza, specifically from the 117th St. Patsy's. Among his findings:

There are a lot of variables for such a simple food. But these 3 FAR outweigh the others:

1. High Heat
2. Kneading Technique
3. The kind of yeast culture or "starter" used along with proper fermentation technique

All other factors pale in comparison to these 3. I know that people fuss over the brand of flour, the kind of sauce, etc. I discuss all of these things, but if you don't have the 3 fundamentals above handled, you will be limited.

(thx, ian)

Old (but great) Jeffrey Steingarten on learningApr 21 2005

Old (but great) Jeffrey Steingarten on learning how to eat everything.

The Man Who Ate EverythingMar 12 2003

The Man Who Ate Everything

His gastronomic rapacity knows no satiety.

It Must've Been Something I AteFeb 24 2003

It Must've Been Something I Ate

Meg and I are both currently hooked on the writings of the obsessively funny Jeffrey Steingarten, Vogue's food columnist. She's tucked into The Man Who Ate Everything while I'm reading It Must Have Been Something I Ate. It's like Mr. Wizard meets David Sedaris meets The Galloping Gourmet.

The best part of this whole Steingarten-a-thon is that Meg has started cooking meat. You see, Jeffrey loves meat. And butter. And lard. And cheese. And eggs. He doesn't believe the hype about salad. He believes people can eat meat, fat, and cheese and still be healthy (see the French Paradox) and probably a whole lot happier. I am delighted on so many levels to hear this viewpoint - my viewpoint also - expressed so convincingly.

In the last week, Meg has twice stopped at Ottomanelli's Butcher Shop on Bleecker, once for filet mignon for Valentine's Day (which when combined with mashed potatoes and a small salad, is surprisingly economical for how damn good the meal is) and this past Friday for a whole chicken (which took far too long to cook due to a faulty oven, but turned out wonderful anyway due to Meg's skill in the kitchen and Dean Allen's whimsical directions). My tummy and taste buds are plently happy. Thanks, Jeffrey.

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