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  • Writer's pictureHand of Dough

Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN)

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

If Napoli is the spiritual home of pizza, then the AVPN is Napoli's classroom for learning how to make a true ("Vera") Neapolitan pie

In October of 2022 I completed the professional basic training course at the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) in Napoli.

Founded in 1984, AVPN was set up with the mission to promote and protect in Italy and worldwide the true Neapolitan pizza by establishing the fundamental rules by which you can recognize and differentiate the true Neapolitan Pizza from other type of pizza.

We are fighting nobody, we just want to affirm our ancient traditions. We are against the cultural and commercial deformation of our pizza and against its industrialization; in fact, the ready-to-eat and frozen pizzas sold in supermarkets have nothing to do with the original ones.”

During the course, we heard several times the AVPN team describe pizza as the essentially democratic food, enjoyed by people around the world in a wide variety of styles (Roman, New York, Detroit, Chicago, etc). They are at pains to point out that the AVPN does not claim that Neapolitan pizza is in any way superior to any other style, all they set out to do is describe what can be regarded as Neapolitan pizza.

The pizza secret lies all in the dough rising. Its recipe? It doesn’t exist and I can tell you that, because I’ve learnt since I was a child that dough rising changes according to the weather, hot or cold, dry or damp. For instance if it’s cold, you need hot water and a little salt, if it’s hot you need less salt since it slows down the rising. These issues must be taken into consideration the night before, when preparing the dough. You can standardize the process, but it is the experience that refines the art

The course was intense and while most of it was in the classroom (a fully equipped kitchen with four pizza ovens - two wood fired, one gas, and one electric) there were also theory classes covering flour, yeast, tomatoes, olive oil, and oven operations. These were long days and I loved every minute.

Most of my fellow students were experienced chefs looking to add a new skill to their repertoire. I, on the other hand, was a soon to be retired software guy who found the industrial kitchen an alien environment both in terms of equipment and process. Despite being a keen amateur cook this was all very much outside of my comfort zone and I guess that, at some strange level, was exactly what I was looking for. I will describe more of the course specifics in other blog posts but, needless to say, it was a brilliant experience. Made great friends. Learned new skills. Gained new confidence. Pursued a passion. What more could you ask for?


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