What do you know about pizza? Well for a start, you might be surprised to learn that it was probably the Greeks who were first putting toppings on flat breads, followed by the Romans. But the true home of pizza is credited to be Naples in Italy. And it’s not surprising because Naples was occupied by Greek settlers two thousand years before the birth of Christ. Did they bring their topped flatbreads with them? Be that as it may, the Italian version of pizza was first eaten in the tiny little streets of this busy city, one of the earliest fast foods to be consumed on the move. These early pizzas were nowhere near the modern concoctions we know today – ham and pineapple did not make an appearance! Fresh Neopolitan pizzas were made by skilled pizza makers (Pizzaioli) who handmade their own dough to create flatbreads, spinning them dextrously in the air by hand to make a large disc on which to place topping. Back in the day in Naples, toppings would have been very simple – local tomatoes and young fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, maybe with a bit of fresh basil thrown in for good measure. This would be baked in an old fashioned stone oven, in the traditional way. A proper fast food made from proper local fresh ingredients – absolutely divine to eat. Early pizza sellers folded whole pizzas into quarters which could be held in one hand and munched easily. As this food became more popular it was commonly sold by the slice. It’s not known exactly how sliced pizza originated, but like any idea, necessity is always the mother of invention! We can imagine that some ingenious street vendor scratched his head one day and a light bulb came on, as he decided it was way easier to bake big pizzas and slice them, than do an individual pizza for each person that came by! The real takeaway pizza was born! And with it, a worldwide love of this food.
The Irish have taken to pizza like ducks to water. It is one of the most popular fast foods in this country. Today it’s even possible to make a truly Irish version of the Neopolitan original, using home made dough and Irish produced Toonsbridge Buffalo Mozzarella, with ripe Irish tomatoes and fresh basil, widely available now. If you want to get fancy you could add some slices of homecured meats like Ballinwilln House wild boar salami or Jack McCarthy’s home made pancetta from Co. Cork. And in Co. Clare, Burren Smokehouse have created their very own pizza, using pototoes for the base and some of the smokhouse’s finest smoked salmon for the top. If you fancy having a go at that one, you can find the recipe here. It looks absolutely delicious and it’s perfect for those who want their pizza gluten free.
If you’re travelling out and about this summer and fancy a pizza, you’ll find excellent home made ones in: