Pizza has become one of North America’s most popular foods, either as a snack or quick lunch or even as dinner. It is served in restaurants, quick service establishments, delivered to homes, is available in frozen form, and sold as take-out food.
Fifty years ago, pizzerias in North America few and worked well in large cities. Today, every town has one or more pizzerias. In fact, huge corporations expanded the “pizzeria culture” to many other countries. Several franchise companies operate successfully in many cities, and the numbers are increasing constantly.
North American business has taken pizza, that originated in Italy, more precisely in Naples in southern Italy, and changed it completely by making it a thick dough and covering it with so many ingredients that most likely the inventor (whoever he/she maybe) is turning in his/her grave.
In Chicago you can order deep-dish pizza, which is more or less a raised dough with a sprinkling of diluted tomato sauce, a few slices of spicy sausage, and topped with shredded mozzarella cheese.
An Italian shudders at the sight of such an abomination passing as pizza. The authentic pizza of Naples as established by the Pizza Association (Assoziazone Verace Pizza Napolletana) established rules and regulations that run six pages for authentic Neapolitan pizza.
Some of the more important rules are: marinara (tomato, extra virgin olive oil, mozzarella or fior di latte, grated cheese and basil) pizzas are officially sanctioned. Flour must be wheat only, and ground to 00 specifications. Only the following tomatoes must be used – San Marzano, Agro, Sarnese nocerino, pomodori di Corbara, and pomodoro Vessuvio.
(D O P Denominazione di origine protetta quality for the above). The dough must be made with natural (wet) and compressed yeast and raised. No rolling pin may be used, only hand formed is acceptable. The dough weighs approximately 300 grams. The dough must be soft, elastic, easy to manipulate, and fold with a soft centre. The cheese must be evenly spread over the sough.
The pizza must be baked at 485 C (905 F) for a few minutes only.
In Naples, there are about 1500 pizzerias to choose from, but only a few are considered to be authentic i.e Da Michele (two outlets in the city).
Finally, pizza in Naples is never a meal, but only an appetizer or snack.
It is always small, hand formed, thin crust and quickly baked in a wood-burning specially designed oven at a high temperature!