Welcome back to another edition of Eating Italy! Today we’re going to talk about one of the world’s best loved dishes: pizza! Indeed, according to Google global trends, “pizza” is the third most searched food and drink stuff. And it’s easy to understand why! When you are starving, is there anything better than a crunchy slice of Margherita?
Pineapple pizza & co: unacceptable mistakes
Well, again we need to check out some weird beliefs and legends about Italian pizza and its toppings.
First of all, there should never be pineapple on top of pizza. Never! Pineapple and pizza don’t match. It could seem an exotic and original mix, but you’ll never find an authentic pizzeria in Italy having this option on its Pizza menu.
Pineapple pizza from A hint of honey.
Secondly, we don’t smother our pizzas in garlic and neither ketchup nor French fries are acceptable on the same plate as a Pizza. We’ll admit it is possible to find places serving pizza with fries but this is an imported habit for tourists.
Debatable ketchup pizza from Cardiopizza.
Finally, a “pepperoni” pizza is actually a slightly embarrassing misunderstanding. We use PEPERONI (not pepperoni) as a topping, but in Italy, peperoni are a kind of vegetable and they usually go with a mix of other ingredients, like other grilled vegetables on a pizza Margherita, which is both delicious and healthy! The well-known pepperoni pizza would be similar to pizza con salame piccante, which is a kind of sausage, in Italy.
Anyway, it’s proved that the most eaten pizza in Italy is the simple Margherita: a crunchy, (yet neither sticky nor too dry) base of bread dough covered by tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese (better if Bufala), a drop of extra virgin olive oil and a basil leaf or a dust of dried rosemary. That’s the original pizza: plain and perfect! Another variety that I personally love, and which is suitable also for people with lactose intolerance, is the Napoli originale: a crunchy base with tomato sauce, rosemary, basil and under-oil anchovies, but no mozzarella.
The history of pizza
The pizza origins go hand in hand with the pasta one; that is to say, nobody knows when pizza was invented: the bread dough is just a typical food of Mediterranean regions. However, it was in the daedalus of Naples alleys that it acquired its actual shape.
The two main ingredients for pizza are mozzarella and pomodoro, and they arrived in Italy in different ages. After the Roman Empire had collapsed, the Longobards brought buffalos to Italy, which found an ideal place to live in the area between Lazio and Campania and provided the milk to make mozzarella. On the other hand, the tomato came into Italian cooking tradition from Peru, after the New World colonization.
Pizza Margherita: a national symbol
The love affair between dough and tomato happened in the Reign of Naples around 1730; the first version was pizza Marinara: pizza dough, tomato, oil, rosemary and garlic and it was immediately beloved by poor and rich people indiscriminately. In 1889 even the Real Family of Savoia fell in love with pizza, and the famous piazzaiolo Raffaele Esposito dedicated to Queen Margherita di Savoia who was visiting Naples, the pizza Margherita, made with red tomato, white mozzarella and green basil: the new Italian flag colours.
Did our brief history lesson make you drool? Read our next post if you want a true insight into the original Italian pizza recipe.
For the moment, post on our Facebook page the worst pizzas you’ve ever eaten and tell us what is the most extravagant topping you’ve ever tasted!