Pizza

Naples Travel Blog

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A few days ago I wrote about the contribution Florence made to modern society. Not to be outdone, Naples invented the pizza. The concept of flavoured flatbread has been around for thousands of years and the word pizza itself since at least 997 CE, however the pinnacle of cruisine, the modern pizza, was only invented in the 16th century, after tomatoes were introduced to Naples from America. The original pizza was the simple tomato base pizza, called the marinara as it was prepared by “la marinara”, the fisherman’s wife, for when her husband returned home. It was so popular that it became a tourist attraction for the poor neighbourhoods - King Ferdinand I (1751-1825) had to disguise himself as a commoner and visit the poor neighbourhoods of Naples in order to eat pizza, since the Queen had unreasonably banned pizza from the court. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, the world’s first pizzeria, dates from this era, producing pizzas since 1738 and still running in Naples.

Naples was also the home for the next great innovation in the development of pizza, the addition of cheese. To be precise it was the chef Raffaele Esposito who first added mozzarella to a pizza in 1889. The red, white and green of the pizza (tomato, mozzarella and basil) so pleased the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, that Raffaele Esposito immediately named the Margherita Pizza in her honour. Today purists only recognise the Marinara and Margherita as authentic Neapolitan pizzas, and follow the rules of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. Pizzerias such as Da Michele will only use Italian wheat flour type 0 or 00, natural Neapolitan yeast, San Marzano tomatoes (added to the pizza in a clockwise direction) and mozzarella made from the milk of semi-wild water buffalo raised in the marshlands of Campaia. The pizza then needs to be kneaded and rolled out by hand to no thicker than 3mm and baked in a 485C oak-wood fired stone oven for only 60-90 seconds.

And yes - the pizzas at both Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba and Da Michele were amazing.
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photo by: Joost1976