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I confess: I love pizza – the pizza service kind. Finding good recipes and cooking a fine, wholesome meal is great, and so is going out for dinner. But sometimes nothing beats snuggling up with my sweetheart and eating something we’ve ordered through the internet, which some poor bugger has to climb five flights of stairs to bring us.
No shopping. No hassle. Just sweet and salty carbohydrates.Down in Naples, “pizza” is something quite different. To them, our pizza-in-a-box is a sad excuse for food. Making pizza is an art, and throwing pizza dough is a higher form of culture. The classic pizza a la Margharita, featuring the three colors of the Italian flag (red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil), was invented in Naples in the 19th century and exported to the whole world, making it a symbol for the entire country.Now the people of Naples have petitioned the European Union’s Ministry of Agriculture to register their number one product as a “guaranteed traditional speciality.” Antonio Pace, president of the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana, helped get it all down on paper in minute detail: which type of flour and how many grams of yeast to use, how many minutes to knead the dough and how long to let it rise in between kneading rounds, which circumference the pizza must have and which types of tomatoes are used as a spread. The instructions even detail the hand movements needed to spread the toppings properly.
Now, I ask you: How can you define the Pizza Napoletana if not even Sergio and Marco and Lucia and Cecilia can agree on what makes a perfect pizza? Isn’t that Italian culture in its purest form: the endless and passionate discussion and negotiation about what is good or bad, better or worse, what constitutes a slight improvement and what is a throwback to things that we no longer like? Isn’t the Italian culture we aim to preserve about the love of discourse and debate? Or am I missing something here?
This initiative is supposed to promote the region with its cuisine, food industry and cooking courses, since from 2009 anyone in Europe claiming to sell a Pizza Napolitana found to be lacking, as it does not meet the exacting TSG norms, could be required to take a course in Bella Italia. Oh, Brussels. I wonder if the bureaucrats are wise to the fact that everybody knows that a pizza-service pizza is going to taste different from the one Luigi makes at his restaurant.
The petition says, “The Pizza Napoletana should be consumed immediately, straight out of the oven, at the pizzeria. If the pizza were removed from the pizzeria to be eaten later, it would no longer carry the mark of a true Pizza Napoletana.” Grammar fans, note the second conditional: This is a horrific vision which the authors can only express using a form reserved for very hypothetical situations.If this petition is accepted, the pizza service I use will no longer be able call its pizza a “Pizza Napolitana”. But frankly, who cares? If someone makes all that effort to bring it to me, a pizza by any other name would taste as sweet.
- The petition, in charming Italian English, is here.
- How to make pizza: video.
- Check out Jamie Oliver’s podcast, which at the time of writing features baking bread and pizza.
- When did people start eating your favorite food? Explore Food Timeline.
- Grammar fans, practice your if clauses/conditionals here.
Learning the Ropes – Vokabeln auf die Schnelle
confess – zugeben, beichten
recipe – Rezept
wholesome – gesund
to snuggle up with – kuscheln
poor bugger – arme Sau
flight of stairs – Stockwerk
hassle – stress
carbohydrates – Kohlenhydrate
a sad excuse for – billiger Abklatsch (wörtl: traurige Ausrede)
dough – Teig
basil – Basilikum
to petition – Petition einreichen
get it all down on paper – alles zu Papier bringen
in minute detail – sehr detailliert
flour – Mehl
yeast – Hefe
to knead – kneten
to let the dough rise – den Teig gehen lassen
circumference – Umfang
spread, to spread – Belag, verteilen
to detail – genau beschreiben
topping – Garnierung
negotiation – Verhandlung
to constitute – darstellen
throwback – Rückschritt, Rückgriff auf diskreditierte Konzepte
to miss something – etwas nicht mitbekommen
to promote – fördern
cuisine – (nationale/regionale) Küche, Kochkultur
to boost – fördern
since – da
to claim – vorgeben
found to be lacking – als nicht ausreichend entlarvt werden
to meet the exacting norms – den anspruchsvollen Normen genügen
to be wise to the fact – checken
to be required to do something – etwas tun müssen
horrific vision – Horrorvision
to make an effort – sich die Mühe machen
by any other name – unter jedem anderen Namen Note: “A rose by any other name would smell as sweet,” says Juliet about Romeo, wishing his last name, Montague, were different, as the Montagues are her family’s worst enemies. (William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet)
I just read your blog about possible Pizza guidelines.. I love pizza as well and I think it´s pretty difficult to make it taste identically all over the world.. However, I´m asking myself if that´s even worthwile.. Sometimes I´m ordering a Pizza Margharita and I´m aghast by what I´m getting. Therefore it´ll be helpful to have guidelines which products have to be used to guarantee a high quality standard. But otherwise I think it´s interesting to get a variety of the same pizza by different italian restaurants. It would be boring for me to know exactly how the pizza Margharita I´m ordering is going to taste and whats on it. So maybe this kind of surprise isn´t wrong at all as long as the ingredients are fresh and tasty.
My favorite take out pizza has fresh ruccola on it 😉
You have a point: We’re defining standards for many products and procedures to protect consumers and producers.
Does it make sense to define global guidelines and standards for our cultural traditions, too? And should the EU be the one to do it? Or is it enough just to write cookbooks and restaurant reviews?