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Anyone who's been to Italy knows that the famous Neapolitan pizza is a show-stopper: light, thin and crisp with a perfect balance of cheese and sauce. You really can't go wrong. Or so one would think. On Monday, Italian daily Il Giornale reported a truly grim story: Italian investigators in Naples are setting their sights on thousands of small, lower-end pizza shops and bakeries on suspicion that the owners may be using wood from caskets to fuel the pizza ovens. According to reports, "pizza, one of the few symbols of Naples that endures... is hit by the concrete suspicion that it could be baked with wood from coffins."
While Neapolitan pizza is traditionally baked using a stone oven and oak-wood fire, apparently timber times are tough. Naple's graveyard has long been plundered by grave robbers and thieves -- 5,000 flower pots were nabbed in 2009 alone -- but wood seems to be their latest target. Neapolitan gangs are the suspected culprits, possibly setting up "a market for coffins sold to hard-hearted owners of bakeries and pizzerias looking to save money on wood," Il Giornale reported.
Lucky for us, Los Angeles pizzerias are still finding space in their budget for legitimate wood. Nancy Silverton's Pizzeria Mozza blisters its crust with almond wood while Monterey Park's Bollini's Pizzeria prefers that of the cherry variety. We ran Naple's coffin pizza story by Bollini's manager Bernard Manzo, who told us, "That's really, really weird. But hey, their pizzeria's might not have the particular wood they're looking for, so they do what they need to do to get flavorful wood."
Christie Bishop can also be found food blogging at PardonMyCrumbs.com.