Italy! A country of beauty, love, history, art. There is nobody, who once in touch with the incandescent passion of the Italian people, has not fallen in love for life with Italy. That is the reason why the test that this country of love is passing through right now is like a knife to our hearts. We pray with her people and have them in our minds. That is why my memories took me to that trip last spring when I dove into the chaos of Naples.
Every time when I hear the call for traveling in my head, my first choice always falls to the Apennine Peninsula. The riches of the North may be an advantage to some, but to me the Southern people are more real and true, with their simple human aspirations and pleasures.
On the front side of the ankle of the boot of Italy, bordering with the radiant waters of the Tyrrhenian Sea, stretches the Campania region. Part of Magna Grecia in the times before the strengthening of the Roman Empire, the region has always been a place preferred for rest and recuperation by emperors and generals with its beautiful nature, climate and rich Greek-Roman culture, made even richer in the next centuries by Lombards, Spaniards, French and the Normans.
Following the lead of the emperors, I, too, arrived in Naples for a well-deserved rest. Probably everyone has heard the story of Queen Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I, for whose birthday in the late 19th century the Master-Pizza maker (pizzaiolo in Italian) Raffaele Esposito prepared a special pizza with basil, mozzarella and tomatoes to depict the flag of Italy through the colors of the products. The Queen loved the pizza and Esposito, no stranger to successful PR, immediately named the pizza to the name of the queen – “Margherita”, as it is still known to this day around the world. In December 2017, UNESCO added pizza “Margherita” to its World Heritage List. So, immediately after my arrival late in the evening in the capital of Campania, I headed to the recommended pizzeria in order to eat directly from the source.
Naples is colorful with its bustle, life, spontaneity. Some think it is dangerous, but I find it irresistible. As I was walking to the pizzeria, I was enjoying the honking of the driving by motorini with two-three youngsters hanging from them. Nothing around me was indicating it was a bit before midnight as life was just starting in the warm Saturday night.
In the past, the pizza was the food of the poor and was sold in the streets, without any claims for a precise recipe. They just decorated the flat round bread with whatever they had at hand – herbs, garlic, olive oil. Unlike its sisters from Rome or from other parts in Italy, the Naples Margherita has a very thin dough in the middle and golden crispy edges. The overall feeling is that the middle is going to flow out any second. If you are used to pick up the pieces with your hand and eat it, I am sorry, but I will have to disappoint you – this pizza Margherita cannot be eaten that way. Also, you would not like to offend the Italians, right? So, just do not do it!
I was sitting in the pizzeria, and two infinitely polite and well-dressed waiters were courting me, in the unique way only Italians know how to. As I am remembering the moment, I cannot stop smiling and I get the urges of making the Margherita of that moment. Allow me to share with you how to make it, so that we could enjoy it together.
It’s very easy!
A small clarification before we begin: if you want your pizza to be as close to the Naples Margherita as possible, it would be best, of course, to use original Italian products. We can be of service in this instance as we deliver free of charge, at the prices of Delita Trade Ltd (www.delitatrade.com) as they import directly food products from all regions of Italy. If you wish to make an order, please, call Ray Catering at 0888 324 797 or write an email to Mg@rai-catering.com.
And here is the recipe.
For every 0.500 kg flour:
– 0.300 ml water
– 0.010 dry yeast GMI
– 0.015 kg salt
– 0.015 ml extra-virgin olive oil
– Tomato paste
Mix the flour, the yeast and the water. Knead until it becomes homogeneous. After that, add the salt and knead until the dough is smooth, adding at the end the olive oil in a trickle. Leave to rest for 20 minutes and knead again. After about an hour, roll out the dough, smear with tomato sauce and put on top the mozzarella and the basil. Bake in a heated – to the maximum – oven until ready.
• Since at our establishment we prepare the dough with a professional dough-maker, if you prefer, you can use the dough that you are accustomed to make.
If you followed the recipe, it should look something like this:
Are we ready? Salute! The wine I have chosen is Sessantanni Primitivo di Manduria DOP San Marzano, but if you do not have exactly that one any other red will do.
Mmm… Can’t talk anymore… Until next time! Hopefully – in Italy.