A New York Expatriates Magnificent Obsession: Pizza

According to a news report from nytimes.com, “Jeff Varasano woke at 2:50 a.m. so he could get to his kitchen, measure precise quantities of water, flour, salt and yeast on a digital scale, and then mix them together. Sixteen hours later about 30 guests would be arriving, and they would want pizza. Since moving from Manhattan to Atlanta in 1998, Mr. Varasano, a 42-year-old software engineer, has been looking for the kind of pizza he left behind in New York. Finding nothing close, he has spent much of the past decade trying to reverse-engineer what had been his favorite — from Patsy’s in East Harlem — in a home kitchen oven which, like nearly all consumer models, has a maximum cooking temperature roughly half of the 1,000 degrees pumped out by the coal-fired pizza oven at Patsy’s.”

“I came to the conclusion pretty early on that their pies were cooking in 4 minutes and mine were cooking in 15 minutes,” making dense and chewy pizzas, he said. “And so I just went on this quest for more heat.” He could, he thought, rewire the oven’s internal thermometer to switch hot signals for cold ones. “I started to think I was going to burn the house down with these tricks,” he said, “and then I came upon this idea of running it on the cleaning cycle,” said the story. “That epiphany, four years ago, allowed Mr. Varasano to finally produce a pizza as good as he would get in New York. He took a photo of that pie and posted an account, with mad-scientist specificity, of his six years of experiments with flours, mixing techniques, yeast cultures, canned tomatoes, cheeses and oven temperatures.”

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