The U.S. is known for some crazy pizza combinations (enter Hawaiian pizza here), but the truth is that the vast majority found in America is loaded up with too many ingredients, that do nothing but distract from the natural flavor of this age old classic. It’s no secret that Italians take their pizza seriously, and after the cooking class on authentic pizza preparation that I got to take today, I found out why!
First of all, let it be known that there are many different variations and styles of pizza that you’ll get depending on what region you are in Italy. Here in the southern region of Campania, you’re gonna find ‘la pizza napoletano’, or more commonly known in the U.S. as neapolitan style pizza. Originating in Naples in 1889, this pizza has a thin and soft crust that perfectly complements the usual toppings of a simple tomato sauce and chunks of fresh mozzarella. Add a few basil leaves and you’ve got yourself a Margherita pizza ready to eat!
The key to making top notch pizza starts with what goes into it. Italy is known for their use of fresh produce and unprocessed ingredients, allowing the natural flavors to speak for themselves. It’s that simple. Good dough, fresh tomatoes, high quality mozzarella, and natural basil. If you’re doing things right, there shouldn’t be a need for mountains of parmesan or huge spoonfuls of red pepper flakes. As a rule of thumb, if parmesan isn’t already set out for you, don’t ask unless you’re looking to be chased out by the chef.
Like I said earlier, this afternoon we got the opportunity to visit Salerno’s culinary institute, ‘In Cibum’. Over the past 3 weeks we’ve talked a lot about pizza here in Italy, but today came time to actually walk the walk. From helping with the dough making process to watching the 800° oven cook our pizza in 90 seconds, you can see the care that truly goes into the creation of this culinary masterpiece. Of course, no pizza making would be complete without the tasting, and I’ll tell you that nothing feels (or tastes) better than actually eating the food you get to make from scratch.
No better way to learn about the culture here in Italy, than by eating it! I’ll definitely be bringing this experience back with me to the U.S. when trying to recreate the infamous Margherita pizza at home. Party like it’s 1889 and chow down some on some Za!
Ciao a tutti
P.S. Although I already know I have angry Italians scoffing at me far and wide, I stand by the fact that pineapple DOES belong on pizza and no trip to Italy will convince me otherwise. Sorry about it!