Italy Today

Italian pizza: an evergreen dish worldwide

Exploring the French experience

Italian pizza: an evergreen dish worldwide

Claudia Astarita

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Pizza is one of the most popular Italian dishes all over the world. In France - home country of exclusive delicacies (such as foie gras) - Pizza is still very much appreciated.

Paris has witnessed an increase in pizza consumption in a lot of fashionable restaurants. Parisiens have abandoned the exotic flavours of "Hawaiian pizza" with pineapple on top in favour of a more traditional and pure version: the Margherita. On this topic, the very origin of pizza and its name is very interesting. As it is quite known, pizza Margherita was named after queen Margherita. In 1889, she married king Umberto I and pizza Margherita became a national symbol of Italian union, celebrating Italian flag with its three colours: red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil).

Pizza was invented in Naples in the 16th century and the former pizzaiolos must have drawn their inspiration from the popular macaroni with cheese and tomato, which were a gourmet dish at the time. Today, pizza Napoletana (Margherita) has become a landmark of Italy and it will probably be included in the UNESCO intangible heritage list in 2017. Today, pizza is protected with the label "traditional Speciality guaranteed", which only covers two kinds of pizza: Marinara (tomato, oregano, garlic and olive oil) or Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, basil and olive oil).

Notwithstanding the easy process of making pizza as a nice dish to enjoy even at home with family and friends, the pizza covered under the protected label needs to meet some essential requirements. Firstly, the dough has to rise for at least 8 hours, the cooking should take place in a wood oven, the diameter should not be over 35 cm and the centre not more than 4mm.

Several restaurants in Paris serve pizzas made by pure Italian pizzaiolos. An example is Gennaro Nasti, working at the restaurant Popine, who makes a beautiful Calabrese pizza: tomato sauce, hot spianata, mozzarella, basil and olive oil.

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