Pizza was invented in Naples. But it is not pizza as we know it in most of the rest of the world. In fact, about the only thing the two share in common — is the name.
In Naples there are only two classic pizzas recognized. Marinara was created in the late 1700′s and is made with tomato sauce, garlic, oil, sea salt and oregano. Nothing else.
The other classic — the one most closely related to what we eat in America — actually has a official, verifiable birth date – June 11th, 1889. That was the date that pizza baker Raffaele Esposito was called to cater the royal feast given for Queen Margherita di Savoia. In a moment of inspiration that would live forever, he added mozzarella cheese and basil leaves to the tomato sauce (in homage to the red, green and white of Italy’s flag) and named the new creation after the Queen – The Margherita Pizza.
Where is The Pepperoni, The Smoked Salmon, The Goat’s Cheese and The BBQ Chicken
You won’t find exotic ingredients, cheeses or toppings on true Neopolitan pizza. They are fine for normal pizza, but would just distract from the perfection of a Neopolitan.
The tomatoes traditionally used – called piennule – are found only in and around Naples. The are quartered and sprinkled with salt and sometimes oregano or basil before being used.
Cheeses used include scamorza, parmigiano, pecorino, romano, ricotta and, most of all, mozzarella. But not mozzarella di bufala – or buffalo mozzarella – as is often used in America. Too wet and fatty for pizza.
And the crust is as important – or perhaps more so – than the toppings. In fact, many Neopolitan pizza makers state that tasting the crust is the very reason they keep the toppings few and simple. The basic recipe is flour, water, salt and yeast (or in the oldest pizzerias, a starter.) But the real magic happens in the wood fired ovens and in the hands of the master pizza maker and cannot be duplicated by lesser mortals.
By the way, don’t even think of putting a sprinkling of Parmesan on top of your pizza. That is like “putting a rug on top of a rug” according to one pizza master.
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