Playing with Prosciutto: Italian Pizza-Making

Earlier this week I participated in my first “Date with a Professor,” one of CIMBA’s many activities. Fifteen students, two professors and their wives and I had the opportunity to make our very own Italian-style pizzas at a pizzeria in Asolo.

Before we could touch any ingredients, the pizzeria owner and pizza-making master walked us through the important steps of pizza-making. The catch was, he spoke little English and therefore explained the whole process to us in Italian. The professor’s wife translated, but it was a fun challenge to try to figure out what he was saying. I felt like I finally got to use things I’ve learned in Italian for Travelers thus far.

Me and the Italian pizza master! He got a kick out of my joke that you stick your hand in the oven to tell when it is the right temperature.

The fun part was guessing things about the pizza-making process. Throughout his instruction, the owner quizzed us on pizza-making essentials. Did you know, for instance, that it takes only 5 minutes to make a pizza from rolling the dough to it coming out of the oven? I was amazed at how quickly the Italians actually make their pizzas. They can make 60 an hour, depending on the size of the oven. They use wood fire ovens which do not have a temperature gauge. They can tell when the pizza is ready based on how it looks—when the crust is just beginning to turn crispy and brown. Talk about years of experience!

Putting pizzas in the oven
The key ingredients: dough, yeast, and flour

After his detailed explanation, it was finally time to make our own pizzas! We first flattened out our dough, which was much harder than it looks. The pizza master had to help pretty much all of us, expressing “no, no, no!” every time he saw how we were doing it. Once that was out of the way we filled our pizza with sauce, cheese and whatever toppings we wanted. I chose prosciutto, salami and basil.

Classmates sprinkling toppings on their pizzas

After only a couple minutes in the oven, it was time to eat! My fellow classmates and I agreed these were the most delicious Italian pizzas we’ve had thus far, probably due to them being products of our own labor. It was a delicious and rewarding experience. After all, how often do you get to make your own Italian pizza in Italy, coached by an Italian man himself?

My pizza from start to finish. I ate every bite! :)
This post was cross-posted to https://www.biz.uiowa.edu/cimba.
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