Mamma Mia! La Pizza!

Made in Italy but loved all over
the world; that’s Pizza for you! Mushrooming pizza chain outlets and
stand-alone pizzerias bear testimony to the popularity of this simple flat
bread with delicious toppings. Modern Pizza originated in Napoli (or
Naples) in Italy, where it was a food for the poor. Its popularity spread to
the upper classes with the making of the classic Margherita pizza (made in honour of Queen Margherita’s visit to Napoli).
The colours of the toppings – green basil, white mozzarella cheese and red tomatoes – represented the colours of the
Italian flag.

With Italian immigrants moving to
different parts of the world, pizza also travelled far and wide and has been
enthusiastically adopted (and adapted) in other countries. With this vast
reach, pizza has undergone many changes; more often than not, it bears only a
passing resemblance to the original Italian one! A recent article reported that
a team from Glasgow University have developed ‘the first nutritionally balanced
pizza’, which has 30% of the recommended daily amount (RDA) of calories,
proteins, carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals. That sounds just so wrong –
especially since it contains seaweed, fruit and ‘unusual vegetable combinations’!
Any takers?

Pizza has two elements – the crust
and the toppings. The crust, or bottom of the pizza varies from thin to thick,
from deep dish to stuffed crust, from traditional round-shaped to rectangular
ones. The toppings vary widely, even within Italy – tomatoes, sausages,
mushrooms, rocket, anchovies, ham… Also, apart from the usual buffalo mozzarella, gorgonzola, ricotta and stracchino
cheeses are also used, especially in the Pizza Quattro Formaggi (that’s four cheese pizza). Then of course,
there’s the classic American pepperoni and the Indian tandoori chicken or paneer (I’m
sorry but that just doesn’t say pizza to
You can try making your own pizza crust
or use store-bought pizza bases and then build your pizza. Experiment with
different toppings and you’ll find yourself making pizzas more often than
ordering them in! Some suggestions to get you started:
  • For store-bought pizza base, lightly
    roast it on a pan, topside down.
  • Spoon over a bit of olive oil and
    then spread the tomato paste on the top. You can try store-bought tomato paste
    or make some of your own. Blanch the tomatoes, peel and chop them. Heat some
    olive oil, fry garlic, add the tomatoes and cook down to a thick paste. Season
    with salt, pepper, red chilli flakes and dried herbs.
  • Lightly sauté the veggies you are
  • With the meats, cook them well. If
    you’re using sausages or salami, lightly fry them.
  • Use good quality mozzarella. You don’t need to smother
    the pizza with cheese.
  • Top with fresh basil for an
    authentic Italian flavour.

Buon Appetito!

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