By Jenny Katz

Today was an adventure—one that led us into the heart of Naples, Italy, the birthplace of pizza. It was a magical sort of day, the Italian sun casting its golden rays over the ancient city as we navigated narrow streets and bustling squares. Dad had his camera ready, capturing every moment for his YouTube channel, while Tom made us laugh with his renditions of an “Italian accent,” which sounded suspiciously like a pirate.

Mom had stumbled upon this pizza-making class online, and she was ecstatic, exclaiming that it was a “once-in-a-lifetime experience.” Dad booked it right away. It promised not just an appetizer and drinks, but also lessons on making authentic Neapolitan pizza, complete with a pizza chef diploma at the end. I knew right then that this day was going to be extraordinary.

The class was held at Mammina pizzeria restaurant, located in the center of Naples, near the port and Via Toledo. The restaurant itself had an enchanting aroma that would beckon any food lover. The meeting point was downstairs, in what they referred to as “our laboratory.” It felt like stepping into a sacred space, where culinary magic happens.

Our instructor, Giovani, was a master pizza maker, with a twinkle in his eye and flour on his hands. He greeted us, “Benvenuti!” and led us to our workstations, already prepped with an array of ingredients. Each couple would work on a dough recipe intended for two people, he explained. I was paired with Tom, who looked at the flour as if it were a sandbox ready for excavation.

We started with the most crucial step: the dough. In a large mixing bowl, we combined water, yeast, and flour. Giovani shared the secrets handed down through generations, speaking of the renowned San Marzano tomatoes and the intricacies of yeast and oven temperature. I listened intently, scribbling notes in the small notebook I always carry.

Once the dough was set aside to rise, we were introduced to the appetizer—a delectable assortment of fried cuoppo, homemade bread with organic oil, and fresh tomatoes. I savored each bite, feeling as though the flavors were narrating a story, a prelude to the pizza saga that awaited us.

Then came the moment of truth: pizza making. The instructor demonstrated the art of “mozzatura,” the oldest way to divide dough balls. I tried my hand at it, feeling the dough yield and form under my fingers. It was strangely meditative.

Link to the Pizza Class

Pizza class in Naples italy

Now, for the toppings. A palette of vibrant red tomatoes, milky white mozzarella, and emerald green basil leaves awaited us. Tom and I opted for the classic Margherita. Following the instructor’s guidance, we spread the tomato sauce, laid down slices of mozzarella, and adorned it with basil leaves, symbolizing the colors of the Italian flag.

With the shovel’s aid, Giovani guided us to place our creations into the oven. Within minutes, the crust crisped, the cheese melted, and the basil leaves turned into tiny verdant islands in a sea of red and white.

The final step was the most satisfying: eating our creations. With a chilled soda in hand, we sat down to enjoy the pizzas. The first bite was a revelation. The crunchy crust, the gooey cheese, and the tart tomatoes blended perfectly—each flavor distinct yet harmonious. As we ate, Giovani regaled us with the history of Neapolitan pizza, enriching the experience further.

Before leaving, each of us received a diploma proclaiming our newfound status as amateur pizza chefs. I felt a sense of pride as I looked at my name on it—a tangible memory of a truly unforgettable experience.

As we walked back, the streets of Naples seemed even more alive, as if they were celebrating our small but significant culinary triumph. And somewhere in between Tom’s laughter, Dad’s video outro, and Mom’s loving smile, I realized that today was not just about making pizza. It was about family, about history, about culture, and above all, about the sheer joy that comes from creating something beautiful with your own hands.

End of Entry.

Link to the Pizza Class

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