… okay maybe not the world but certainly so far of all the pizza I’ve eaten in Italy, and that’s going some.
Now I’m not talking that doughy bottom burnt disc topped with watery tomato sauce and stringy processed mozzarella-style cheese food that you get at Pizza Pizza. I’m talking about the thin perfectly crisped circle that serves as a platter for all manner of consumables from riccola to roast potatoes throughout Italy. That wonderfully versatile item that can be served as snack, lunch, dinner or even dessert and can be found on the menus of even the most respectable restaurants.
But it was not always thus. In its native Napoli back in the 1880s it was reviled by many. To Carlo Colledi, the author of Pinocchio, it looked “like a patchwork of greasy filth that harmonises perfectly with the appearance of the person selling it.” And it was generally considered as contributing, along with most of the food sold by street vendors, to the on-going outbreaks of cholera in the steaming slums of Napoli. Then in 1889 Raffaele Esposito, a local pizza maker, was called upon to bake a few samples for the very popular Queen Margherita. Apparently his combination of tomato, mozzarella and basil leaves met with Royal Approval (if the above document from Her Majesty’s Mouth Office Inspectorate is to be believed) and was immediately christianed the Margherita. It was was just what pizza needed to send it on its way triumphantly around the world.
But enough history – much of which I found in John Dickie’s delightful Delizia, thanks again Larry for the recomendation – and on to my own pizza nirvana experience.
Sicily Torino, October 23, 2008 – the waiter at La Fila, a family owned ristorante on Pizza , places before me a perfectly baked pencil-thin round. It’s topped very simply with a few ample swirls of fresh tomato sauce, flecks of roasted garlic and a liberal sprinkling of oregano. I cut into it, take a piece in my hand, bring it to my mouth and …
Pizza Perfection! Now if I can only get them to delivery to Roma!
27 ottobre – San Frumenzio