How to cook and eat pizza in Italy
It is hard to imagine more popular food in the world than pizza. Fragrant, hot, with stretching cheese threads, it is loved by everyone. This is a truly iconic product – its long history and unique cooking traditions deserve to learn a little more about them. Especially if you are going to Italy, the homeland of real pizza.
The world’s first pizzeria opened in Naples
When we say: “pizza” – we think: “Italy.” But in fact, such food was familiar to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians. In Italy, for a long time, such a simple dish remained the food of the poor – they put literally everything that was at hand into the filling.
The history of Italian pizza changed in the 16th century, when tomatoes were widely spread in the country: they were brought from South America. In the 17th century began to appear pizzaiolo (pizza) – masters and virtuosos of pizza cooking. And later in Naples opened the world’s first pizzeria – L’Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, which exists to this day.
Every year in spring in Parma, the world-wide Campionato mondiale della pizza is held. The best pizza makers from all over the world come together and compete with each other not only in the art of preparing different types of pizzas, but also in acrobatic competitions with her.
True, despite the almost triumphant spread of pizza in Italy, it still continued to be food for the lower class. Kings did not favor her: perhaps because the dough was kneaded before baking, and it was impossible to eat pizza without staining hands.
Pizza Margherita was named after the Queen of Italy
Margarita, Italian Pizza
Officially, pizza at the royal court remained “outlawed”, but the cheerful leaders did not lose hope of instilling universal love for it. In the end, they began to knead the dough with a pestle, and there is a finished dish with a fork with four cloves. The path to the royal hearts was open! So much so that even one royal person literally gave food its name.
According to one version, being in Naples in 1889, Queen Margarita, tired of French cuisine, wanted something exactly Italian. Then she asked the local cook to prepare several types of pizza for her. Among them was one with a very simple filling: mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and fresh basil leaves.
The colors of the products were carefully selected (red, white and green) and symbolized the Italian flag. The Queen especially liked this pizza and was named after her. And today in Italy there are over 2 thousand types of pizza.
World War II helped to become a popular pizza.
Outside of Italy, pizza was known, but by no means widely. For example, in the USA it appeared at the end of the 19th century, and only because Italian immigrants rushed into the country. They brought their favorite recipes with them, but they only cooked inside their community.
The popularity of pizza in the world was promoted by the Second World War. While in Italy, allied forces often ate local food to supplement exhausting rations. After returning to their homeland after the war, the soldiers literally “brought” with them a love for this Italian dish and aroused people’s interest in it. Franchised pizzerias began to appear in the USA in the late 1950s, and popular food began to spread around the world.
Italians need 90 seconds to bake pizza
Around this time, real Italian pizza will be ready in a 400-degree wood-burning stove, full of heat. At such a high temperature, it acquires a characteristic crust, natural aroma and a little – the smell of a fire. Pizza should be rosy and crispy, without charred edges and in no case be burnt.
The dough for real Italian pizza is light and airy. It is made from a special varietal flour (thanks to it it does not break and stretches), water, live yeast or yeast, salt. Olive oil is sometimes added.
It is believed that the dough should be prepared only by hand – thanks to this, it absorbs the warmth of the hands of pizza and makes it tastier.
Knead the dough by hand and leave to ripen for 72 hours, after which it is rolled thinly to about 0.5 cm (in different regions of Italy the thickness of the dough may vary slightly). Some cooks toss a rolled cake – this is how the dough is formed, “dumps” excess flour and is saturated with oxygen. However, others believe that this ritual is nothing more than a spectacular trick.
And finally, the foundation is ready! It is covered with sauce, put the filling on top and sent to the oven. Place the pizza right on the bottom of the oven and, in the process of baking, turn it over with a special shovel for more even cooking.
Fornayo is a special person who maintains a constant temperature in the oven and is responsible for the readiness of pizza. He should be able to gently and quickly pick up pizza from the table and just as deftly throw it on a stone in the oven, until it sticks to the shovel.