mnmlist: spartan pizza napoletana

A good Neapolitan pizza is a thing of spartan beauty: minimal ingredients that are fresh, stand out, and come together in a way that transcends food and art and beauty — it’s an act of pure love.

My favorite is the Margherita. A simple crust is hand-made, hand-stretched, spread thinly with fresh tomato sauce, with chunks of mozzarella (or vegan cheese) and sprigs of basil strewn about its surface, finished off with a drizzle of perfect olive oil. It goes into an incredibly hot wood oven, where the crust blisters in 60 seconds and, in that briefest moment of purity by fire, a miracle occurs.

The miracle is that these simple ingredients — flour, water, tomatoes, cheese, basil, oil, salt — become the most heavenly substance in the universe: love.

Each ingredient, because it’s not overwhelmed by a smorgasbord of toppings (sausages and four kinds of cheese and caramelized onions and Thai chicken and broccoli or what have you), can be tasted distinctly and appreciated for its simple beauty. Having fewer ingredients allows each to assert itself.

But they also come together in an act of perfect unity, and this shows what minimalism is about. A few things of beauty, when stripped of the extraneous, are allowed to breathe, to shine, to then create a whole that is better than a whole of too many less important things.

This is true of pizza, but also of work and life. Cut back to a few important tasks and your work will be transformed. Do only a few things in life and those things will breathe and take on an importance they never had before. They will create a life that is not only better but is a truer expression of yourself not possible without minimalism.

Minimalism allows your life to be an act of love.

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