Pizza and pizza!


As invented at Pizzeria di brandi in Naples

Naples has long been known as the home of pizza. Possibly because of the lava rocks from Mt Vesuvius used to make their ovens along with the San Marzano tomatoes, (plum), and the buffalo mozzarella. Of course, Queen Margherita helped enormously by choosing the pizza made with the colours of the Italian flag, tomato, (red), mozzarella, (white), and basil for green. Raffaele Esposito named it in her honour. The restaurant where he worked, Pizzeria di Brandi still exists today after being founded in 1780 and I can vouch for their Margherita as well as their simple Focaccina.

What is not commonly known is that Neapolitans do not use a cooked tomato sauce but spread raw tomatoes on their pizzas. They use less, rather than more toppings and the crust is thin to medium. They are cooked for around 90 seconds at close to 500C.

The first known pizzeria in the USA opened in New York in 1905 and still exists with the same oven but in a different location. After World War II, there was a huge Italian immigration to the USA and pizza became increasingly popular. The biggest delivery service in the world today is that of pizza. Why? Because to make an excellent pizza with the right balance of crust to toppings requires a very hot oven of 450C+ and domestic ovens cannot achieve that heat. An interesting fact- American labelling laws prevent any pizza without tomato sauce from been called pizza! Italians would find this incredible as many of their pizzas are what are known as white pizzas- no tomato.

You can still make a reasonable pizza at home if you follow some basic rules. Use Tipo 00 flour which is soft with less gluten. A pizza/baking stone helps the crust enormously. Do not follow recipes that say cook at 200C- cook at the maximum of your oven, generally, 250C, at the bottom of the oven and , after 3 minutes, lightly brush the edge of the crust with water to prevent it getting too hard. Do not use too many toppings or too much and you will then achieve a reasonable crust to topping ratio. You too can be a 'pizzaiolo'! (Master pizza baker). Have a go!


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