Recently we were in Napels, Italy. It did not take us long to find out why the Romans called the province of Campania ‘Campania Felix’ (fertile country), as we tried local wines like Greco di Tufo and Taurasi. The tomatoes from the Vesuvian hill side were amazing, but what we liked best was the one and only Pizza Napoletana. And not without pride did we find out that they only use the best mozzarella in the world for their signature dish – Mozzarella di Bufala Campana – available in our Kaaskamer.
Neapolitans put their pride in the complete dish, the Pizza Napoletana. In the 1600s they claimed the name ‘pizza’ for this flat bread that had been around since the Stone Age. Originally a snack for the pauper, you will nowadays find Italian businessmen queueing at Gino Sorbillo, Pizzeria Starita or Pizzeria Port’Alba from 1830, briefcase in hand.
The discovery of America brought over the tomato, and made the pizza become the worldfamous dish we know so well. Initially a bit sceptic about this red nightshade vegetable, the poor people slowy started to munch away on these tomatoes. The legend tells us that pizza maker Raffaele Esposito came up with the ‘Pizza Margherita’ when he tried to paint the Italian flag using tomato, mozzarella and basil, to honour Queen consort Margherita of Savoy’s visiting Naples.
Just as proud as serious, the Neapolitans founded the “Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana”. This alliance guards the true trade of pizza making (wood oven, hand kneading, max. 35cm diameter, min 3,5mm thick), while some of the bakers take it even further. Of course we did enjoy the tomatoes harvested from the slopes of Mount Vesuvius, but we could not tell if the oil had been drizzled clock or anti-clock wise.
What we could tell was the type of mozzarella melted on top, the Mozzarella di Bufala Campana PDO, because we sell it! We have a lovely ‘Bufala’ from Campania in store, produced by La Contadina Cheese Cooperative (youtube). It was fun to finally eat this cheese in it’s own habitat, between locals eating local goodness. Apparently it feels at home in Amsterdam and surroundings as well, preferably on pizza.