Naples, Celebrating the Pizza

53-naples-pizza

“Hey Mom, they have pizza in Italy too!”  American tourist family overheard in Rome

There was no debate or discussion about evening meal, we were in Naples and it had to be pizza, it had to be pizza because Naples is the home of the dough based, tomato topped classic.

Legend has it that Queen Margherita of Savoy gave her name to the most famous pizza of all on a visit there in 1889.

Tired of French gourmet cooking (as you might well be) she summoned the city’s most famous pizza-maker, Raffaele Esposito, and asked him to bake her three pizzas and she would chose her favourite.  Like a judge on a cookery TV programme she decided upon the patriotic version, prepared in the colours of the Italian flag – red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella) and this became the Pizza Margherita.

Everyone in Naples eats pizza, I have never seen so many pizza restaurants in one place, I tried to work out how many pizzas might be eaten here in a single day but I found the number to be so big it was so incalculable that I feared my head might possibly explode.

Interestingly I cannot see that Italy has a National Pizza Day.  Maybe, and this is an interesting fact, because in terms of pizza consumption per population Italy is only fifth in the World.   A lot of places outside of Naples are clearly bringing the numbers down.  Fourth is Germany, third is the UK, second is the USA but first is NORWAY!  I can understand that, if I lived in Norway I would eat cheap pizza because Norway is amongst the most expensive places to live in the World.

The USA has a National Pizza Day on February 9th.  Over four billion pizzas are sold in America every year, 17% of all restaurants are pizzerias, including Italy at World Showcase at Disney World at EPCOT and around about three hundred and fifty pizza slices are eaten every second. Pepperoni is the most popular pizza at just over one-third of all pies ordered.  Not one of my favourites I have to confess.

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie that’s Amore” (Harry Warren/Jack Brooks)

pizza-tonight-when-the-moon-hits-your-eye-like-a-big-pizza-pie-h2cg4e

When I was a boy growing up we didn’t have pizza!

For my Mum preparing food took up a lot of every day because there were no convenience meals and everything had to be prepared from scratch.  We had never heard of moussaka, paella or lasagne and the week had a predictable routine.  There was complete certainty about the menu because we generally had the same thing at the same time on the same day every week, there were no foreign foods at all, no pasta or curries and rice was only ever used in puddings.

I can still remember my very first pizza and I consider myself fortunate that it was in Italy, in 1976, my first ever overseas holiday when I visited Sorrento with my dad.

I became an immediate fan of the Italian classic and all of its variants just so long as it doesn’t have pineapple on it.  Unless you live in Hawaii pineapple on a pizza is just plain wrong.  And, I am not the only one who thinks this way; in February 2017, the President of Iceland, Guðni Th. Jóhannesson said  and he was ‘fundamentally opposed’ to pineapple on pizzas.  In his words…

“I like pineapples, just not on pizza. I do not (unfortunately) have the power to make laws which forbid people to put pineapples on their pizza.”

pineapple-pizza

Today, authentic Neapolitan pizzas are made only with local produce and have been given the status of a ‘guaranteed traditional speciality’.  This allows only three official variants: pizza Marinara, which is made with tomato, garlic, oregano and extra virgin olive oil, pizza Margherita, made with tomato, sliced mozzarella, basil and extra virgin olive oil, and pizza Margherita Extra made with tomato, buffalo mozzarella from Campania, basil and extra virgin olive oil.

Pizza should be kept simple but it is not only pineapple that is used to spoil it.

Canada joins in on USA Pizza Day and I nominate this Poutine (fried potato, gravy and cheese curds) Pizza as probably the worst ever variation on the famous pie.

poutine-pizza

If we had ever had pizza at home and my mum served this up I can guarantee that I would be there twenty-four hours later listening to her repeat over and again – “you are not leaving the table until you have eaten all of your dinner” or, on rare occasions that I could wear her down…” one more mouthful and you can get down” and just to make it clear that didn’t include “I don’t want to eat this shit.”

On this occasion we stumbled upon an excellent pizzaria down a predictable untidy back street and went downstairs into the restaurant.  Good job we were early because within half an hour it was heaving with customers.  The food was cheap, the house wine was served in a jug and I would like to tell you that I had a classic Margherita but I can’t because I added ham, olives and artichokes to the topping.  It was wonderful.  So good we made an instant decision that we would return again the following evening.

We walked back through the grubby urban scarred back streets of Naples to our accommodation, our senses and stomachs overflowing full to busting after an excellent first day.

I liked it here.  I really liked it here!

What is your favourite pizza, do tell?

My Pizza in Naples

37 responses to “Naples, Celebrating the Pizza

  1. We typically make our own pizza. We used to make it from scratch (meaning, Melisa would make it from scratch) but we now buy the Costco plain cheese pizza (four for $10) and then add our own additional toppings. If we can find a decent Italian sausage, that’s what we have but often we opt for ground beef. We also heap another layer or two of shredded mozzarella cheese.

    We’ve yet to find a decent pizza here on the Big Island and we also failed in Colorado. In Michigan, there was only one choice . . . Pizza Papalis (deep dish).

    http://pizzapapalis.com/menu

    We’d often order half Gourmet (no olives or garlic) and half Spinach. When allowed, I’d go for the Meat Eater’s. If we ordered a la carte it would be a combination of meats and cheeses as the mood struck us. Typically combinations involving Italian Sausage, Chicken Breast, Ground Beef, Extra Cheese mozzarella, Feta Cheese, with Melisa adding vegetables on her half.

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    • Good tactics and toppings, The mozzarella in Naples was the finest I have ever tasted, we don’t get quality mozzarella in UK.
      Interesting that I have been telling stories about Naples and Vesuvius and then you go one better and have your own volcano!

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    • Well, it’s not my nature to compete but, truthfully, Vesuvius is old news. We got fresh lava flowing here, making new land as we speak. Exciting stuff!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Odd indeed that the Pizza day is celebrated in country different from Italy. My favourire pizza has mozzarella cheese, courgette flowers and anchovies, but not in the Neopolitan style as it is too soft and I don’t like the raised rim.

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  3. Not a big fan, but if it has thin crust, fresh mozzarella and prosciutto I can live with it. Those calzone things that look like Cornish pasties ….. yuk! I do understand the high quality you find in Naples, Rome etc, but there are places all over the world selling travesties of the real thing in slices just like a macdonanlds!

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  4. Ohh I grew up on the other side of NYC in NJ the best pizza is from Sciortino and Casa di Roma and Mamma Mia, nothing compare. And I ate in Italy in several cities not Naples but Bologna, Carpi, Milan, Rome nothing compare to the NY area lol!!! Even better than in Gourmet France ::)

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  5. We are of the same era and my mother cooked from scratch, but we had homemade pizzas most Fridays. Poutine pizza is a crime. So is pineapple on pizza. Almost any thin crust pizza suits me, but especially love anchovies, mushrooms, olives and mozzarella.

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  6. “Hey Mom, they have pizza in Italy too!”……aaaargh! Somebody tell him Pizza originated in Italy… I also agree with no pineapple on Pizza!

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  7. Oh, and it must be thin crust…..

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  8. i’d love to be there having a real italian pizza

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  9. My favourite toppings are roasted veges and hubby likes the meat lover. That poutine pizza should be outlawed!! Nothing like pizza in Italy!

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  10. Ooh, that top picture has me salivating! I like proper Italian pizza with a thin base and not too much topping. John is the pizza chef in our house and his are pretty good. Mushroom is probably my favourite.

    Once again, I have similar childhood memories to you. I can’t remember when I had my first pizza, but the first time I heard the word was when the Domestc Science teacher presented us with a recipe for pizza tartlets day I had no idea what that meant. Probably c1973-75.

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  11. maristravels

    Couldn’t agree more.

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  12. Anything hot and spicy

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  13. If you think the Poutine pizza is bad, you’ve clearly never seen perogy, sour cream and bacon pizza! I wonder what the president of Iceland would think of that! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  14. No pineapple! Ever!!! And not pepperoni for me, either, thanks 🙂 🙂 Cheeses, ham, mushrooms, spinach… any of those kind of things. That’s Amore!

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  15. I haven’t had a good pizza since I moved out west. I grew up with New York and Boston style and it’s never been replicated. Of course I’ve never traveled to Italy. Perhaps I could try Naples in Idaho! 😀

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  16. My husband makes homemade pizza from scratch, including the crust. He is originally from the New York City area, and makes it like he remembers from back then.

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