Today’s pizza is increasingly dynamic

The 13th edition of Molino Quaglia’s PizzaUp offered a chance to discuss about soil, fermentation and cooking. With a surprising Boer

by Paolo Marchi

Early in November, at the Scuola del Molino Quaglia in Vighizzolo d’Este, Padua, it was time for the 13th edition of Pizzaup, the technical symposium on contemporary Italian pizza promoted and curated by the Venetian mill and specifically by general manager Chiara Quaglia, and marketing director Piero Gabrieli. Three days of classes and discussions, with a new format.

In the old days, pizzaioli were divided into teams. Each team had to present a special pizza at the end of the congress, the result of the work accomplished after listening and sharing ideas with the participating experts – above all, Corrado Assenza, the comprehensive maestro from Caffè Sicilia in Noto. These pizzas were presented to the press, something that affected the work of most participants, as people attend Pizzaup to learn, not to compete.

A practical consequence: it was unlikely that you’d taste an unforgettable pizza.  In fact, they were always very easy to forget because they did not aim for the perfect balance and taste. They were always based on exploring new roads to be taken in the future,

trying to understand what could later be applied to one’s work, what could be concretely useful and what was instead good to know, but without applying it yourself because not everything can be coherent with the choices taken in a pizzeria.

The new format removed the underlying anxiety of the past, and gave new stimuli based on three keywords: soil, fermentation and cooking. Yes, cooking, because pizza is not a standalone, it is not – it should not be – the unlucky cousin of high quality cuisine, it is one of the worlds that form the universe of our restaurant industry.

There were many topics covered, what with climate conditions and growing cereals – with speeches from professor Salvatore Ceccarelli and farmer Giuseppe Li Rosi on evolutionary cereals – milling techniques, the use of mother yeast, the transformations caused by fermenting dough 

The second of two pizzas prepared by Eugenio Boer: born to a Dutch father, the chef used some typical ingredients from his country 

The second of two pizzas prepared by Eugenio Boer: born to a Dutch father, the chef used some typical ingredients from his country 

and the interpretation of the benefits pizza can have as part of the Mediterranean diet, through its local variations. All these topics were also covered by chef Oliver PirasAndrea MatteiAlessandro Dal DeganChristian TorsielloWicky PriyanLionello CeraEugenio Boer (the quality of the two pizzas he presented was surprising) and Corrado Assenza. Do not think that pizza is still a piece of rolled dough, seasoned according to the desires of the pizzaiolo or the requirements of the client.

Unfortunately, when speaking of pizza, Italy breaks into two parts. It’s a generalisation, but there’s Naples on one side (not even the entire south), and all the other pizzas on the other. What’s lacking is a sincere and open discussion. There are still too many dogmas, too many implied truths, and fears. But there’s no such thing as just one truth, there are no constants. If you use your brain, nothing will stay unchanged. Everything can be questioned if you believe there is a good reason to do so, of course not just out of whim or because of pressures from sponsors or producers.

A souvenir photo from the 2018 edition of PizzaUp at Molino Quaglia

A souvenir photo from the 2018 edition of PizzaUp at Molino Quaglia

Piero Gabrieli said: «What came to light during this edition PizzaUP is that pizza is constantly evolving, so much so we’ve always spoken of Pizzeria Dinamica®. Born as a popular dish, with all its local takes, at a moderate price and with often bad ingredients, in the Eighties and Nineties it became an easy way to make profits, with the pizzaiolo having a marginal role, with no culture. With the arrival of “Gourmet Pizza” in the past few years, consumers have learnt to discover the use of high-quality ingredients for creative toppings, of dough made with mother yeast, which is easier to digest and tastier. Today, pizzaioli are studying, refining their techniques, and making profits. The future of pizza, and therefore the final goal, is high quality cooking, that is to say making the real pizza, with natural flour, mother yeast, and fresh ingredients. For instance, a pizza Margherita made with evolutionary wheat».

Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso