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Pizza…there’s nothing better….

18 Sep

Starting in 2008 and till late 2009 I had some health issues….the docs I consulted suggested so many check-ups with no useful results I really started to think about the worse. Then a very kind doctor lady had the right intuition… I had celiac desease……I was not happy about it, but after the initial dejection, of all the autoimmune illness (or worse) that I could get, this one I can keep under control. The thing I really miss in my gluten-free diet is pizza. Obviously I can buy some good frozen ones I can cook at home, or go to some local pizzerias where they provide a very good alternative…..but trust me, I remember very well the taste of the original version and nothing compares to it! But life is often made of compromises….

 (margherita, the first and original one: just tomato sauce and mozzarella)

The term pizza was first recorded in the 10th century, in a Latin manuscript from Gaeta in Central Italy. The modern pizza was invented in Naples and the dish and its variants have since become popular in many areas of the world. In 2009, upon Italy’s request, Neapolitan pizza was safeguarded in the European Union as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish. The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (the True Neapolitan Pizza Association) is a non-profit organization founded in 1984 with headquarters in Naples. It promotes and protects the “true Neapolitan pizza”. Pizza is sold fresh, frozen or in portions. Various types of ovens are used to cook them and many varieties exist. Several similar dishes are prepared from ingredients commonly used in pizza preparation, such as calzone and stromboli.

 (one of my fav: fresh tomatoes, capers and anchovies)

The origin of the word pizza is uncertain. The term “pizza” first appeared “in a Latin text from the southern Italian town of Gaeta in 997 AD, which states that a tenant of certain property is to give the bishop of Gaeta duodecim pizze (“twelve pizzas”) every Christmas Day, and another twelve every Easter Sunday”. Suggested etymologies include the Ancient Greek word πικτή (pikte), “fermented pastry”, which in Latin became “picta”, and Late Latin pitta > pizza. Compare Greek pita bread and the Apulia and Calabrian pitta. The Ancient Greek word πίσσα (pissa, Attic πίττα, pitta), “pitch”,or pḗtea, “bran” (pētítēs, “bran bread”). The Italian word pizzicare meaning “to pluck”, which refers to pizza being plucked quickly from the oven (pizzicare was derived from an older Italian word pizzo meaning “point”). The Old High German word bizzo or pizzo meaning “mouthful” (related to the English words “bit” and “bite”), which was brought to Italy in the middle of the 6th century AD by the invading Lombards.

 (fresh tomatoes and spicy salami)

 (baked ham and mushrooms)

Foods similar to pizza have been made since the neolithic age. Records of people adding other ingredients to bread to make it more flavorful can be found throughout ancient history. In Sardinia, French and Italian archaeologists have found bread baked over 7,000 years ago. According to Professor Philippe Marinval, the local islanders leavened this bread. The Ancient Greeks had a flat bread called plakous (πλακοῦς, gen. πλακοῦντοςplakountos) which was flavored with toppings like herbs, onion, and garlic. Like pizza, these flatbreads are from the Odyssey area. Other examples of flatbreads that survive to this day from the ancient Mediterranean world are focaccia (which may date back as far as the ancient Etruscans), coca (which has sweet and savory varieties) from Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, the Greek Pita, Lepinja in the Balkans, or Piadina in the Romagna part of Emilia-Romagna in Italy. Foods similar to flatbreads in other parts of the world include the Indian Paratha (in which fat is incorporated), the Central and South Asian Naan (leavened) and Roti (unleavened), the Sardinian Carasau, Spianata, Guttiau, Pistoccu and Finnish Rieska. Also worth note is that throughout Europe there are many similar pies based on the idea of covering flat pastry with cheese, meat, vegetables and seasoning such as the Alsatian Flammkuchen, German Zwiebelkuchen, and French Quiche.

 (a must in my hometown: tomato sauce, mozzarella and Parma ham)

In 16th century Naples, a Galette flatbread was referred to as a pizza. Known as the dish for poor people, it was sold in the street and was not considered a kitchen recipe for a long time. This was later replaced by oil, tomatoes (after Europeans came into contact with the Americas) or fish. In 1843, Alexandre Dumas, père, described the diversity of pizza toppings. An often recounted story holds that on 11 June 1889, to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita”, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the national colours of Italy as on the Italian flag.

 (very common in Italy: 4 seasons)

 (or more than 4…)

Pizza is now a type of bread and tomato dish, often served with cheese. However, until the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, the dish was sweet, not savory, and earlier versions which were savory more resembled the flat breads now known as schiacciata. Pellegrino Artusi‘s classic early twentieth century cookbook, La Scienza in cucina e l’Arte di mangiar bene gives three recipes for pizza, all of which are sweet. However, by 1927, Ada Boni’s collection of regional cooking includes a recipe using tomatoes and mozzarella.

 (others 2 of my fav: cooked ham and almost raw egg…)

 (….margherita plus pork sausage)

The innovation that led to flat bread pizza was the use of tomato as a topping. For some time after the tomato was brought to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, it was believed by many Europeans to be poisonous (as are some other fruits of the nightshade family). However, by the late 18th century, it was common for the poor of the area around Naples to add tomato to their yeast-based flat bread, and so the pizza began. The dish gained popularity, and soon pizza became a tourist attraction as visitors to Naples ventured into the poorer areas of the city to try the local specialty. Until about 1830, pizza was sold from open-air stands and out of pizza bakeries, and pizzerias keep this old tradition alive today. It is possible to enjoy paper-wrapped pizza and a drink sold from open-air stands outside the premises. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples is widely regarded as the city’s first pizzeria. Purists, like the famous pizzeria “Da Michele” (founded 1870), consider there to be only two true pizzas — the Marinara and the Margherita — and that is all they serve. These two “pure” pizzas are the ones preferred by many Italians today. The Marinara is the older of the two and has a topping of tomato, oregano, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It is named “marinara” because it was traditionally the food prepared by “la marinara”, the seaman’s wife, for her seafaring husband when he returned from fishing trips in the Bay of Naples.

 (one of children’s favourite: wurstel)

 (spicy salami)

“Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana” (“True Neapolitan Pizza Association”), which was founded in 1984, has set the very specific rules that must be followed for an authentic Neapolitan pizza. These include that the pizza must be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven; that the base must be hand-kneaded and must not be rolled with a pin or prepared by any mechanical means (i pizzaioli — the pizza makers — make the pizza by rolling it with their fingers) and that the pizza must not exceed 35 centimetres in diameter or be more than one-third of a centimetre thick at the centre. The association also selects pizzerias all around the world to produce and spread the verace pizza napoletana philosophy and method. There are many famous pizzerias in Naples where these traditional pizzas can be found like Da Michele, Port’Alba, Brandi, Di Matteo, Sorbillo, Trianon and Umberto (founded: 1916). Most of them are in the ancient historical centre of Naples. These pizzerias will go even further than the specified rules by, for example, only using San Marzano tomatoes grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and only drizzling the olive oil and adding tomato topping in a clockwise direction.

 (a healthier choice. vegetarian)

 (4 cheeses)

The pizza bases in Naples are soft and pliable. In Rome they prefer a thin and crispy base. Another popular form of pizza in Italy is “pizza al taglio” which is pizza baked in rectangular trays with a wide variety of toppings and sold by weight. Pizza was brought to the United States with Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century, and first appeared in areas where Italian immigrants concentrated. The country’s first pizzeria, Lombardi’s, opened in 1905. Following World War II, veterans returning from the Italian Campaign after being introduced to Italy’s native cuisine proved a ready market for pizza in particular. Since then pizza consumption has exploded in the U.S. It is so ubiquitous, thirteen percent of the U.S. population consumes pizza on any given day.

 (margherita plus tuna)

 (another children’s choice: with french fries)

The world’s largest pizza was at the Norwood Pick ‘n Pay hypermarket in Johannesburg, South Africa. According to the Guinness Book of Records the pizza was 37.4 meters (122 feet 8 inches) in diameter and was made using 500 kg (1,100 lb) of flour, 800 kg (1,800 lb) of cheese and 900 kg (2,000 lb) of tomato puree. This was accomplished on December 8, 1990. The world’s most expensive pizza listed by Guinness World Records is a commercially available thin-crust pizza at Maze restaurant in London, United Kingdom, which costs £100. The pizza is wood fire-baked, and is topped with onion puree, white truffle paste, fontina cheese, baby mozzarella, pancetta, cep mushrooms, freshly picked wild mizuna lettuce, and fresh shavings of a rare Italian white truffle. There are several instances of more expensive pizzas, such as the £4,200 “Pizza Royale 007” at Haggis restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland, which has caviar, lobster and is topped with 24-carat gold dust, and the US$1,000 caviar pizza made by Nino’s Bellissima pizzeria in New York City However, these are not officially recognized by Guinness World Records. Additionally, a pizza was made by the restaurateur Domenico Crolla that included toppings such as sunblush-tomato sauce, Scottish smoked salmon, medallions of venison, edible gold, lobster marinated in the finest cognac, and champagne-soaked caviar. The pizza was auctioned for charity in 2007, raising £2,150.

 (black olives and corn)

 (spicy salami, jalapeno and hot capsicum)

Some mass-produced pizzas by fast food chains have been criticized as having an unhealthy balance of ingredients. Pizza can be high in salt, fat and food energy. The USDA reports an average sodium content of 5,101 mg per 14 in (36 cm) pizza in fast food chains. There are concerns about negative health effects. Food chains have come under criticism at various times for the high salt content of some of their meals. Frequent pizza eaters in Italy have been found to have a relatively low incidence of cardiovascular disease and digestive tract cancers relative to infrequent pizza eaters, although the nature of the correlation between pizza and such perceived benefits is unclear. Pizza consumption in Italy might only indicate adherence to traditional Mediterranean dietary patterns, which have been shown to have various health benefits. Some attribute the apparent health benefits of pizza to the lycopene content in pizza sauce, which research indicates likely plays a role in protecting against cardiovascular disease and various cancers.

 (pizza marinara)

 (with seafood)

Well, it’s friday….quess where I’m going tomorrow night to have dinner with friends???

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1 Comment

Posted by on September 18, 2015 in Uncategorized

 

Tags: , ,

One response to “Pizza…there’s nothing better….

  1. Gattina

    September 18, 2015 at 4:10 pm

    Empty your fridge, and put the content on a “naked” Pizza there is no limit !

     

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