In 1889, the pizza was named after Margherita, Queen consort of the kingdom of Italy. The pizza bears the three colours of the Italian flag: red tomatoes, green basil and white mozzarella.
To this day, the citizens of Naples still debate, argue, compete for what is the most authentic pizza, the best ingredients and argue about which ingredients are used and how it’s constructed.
There’s no way I’m going to walk through this mine field and even if I visited Naples, I’m sure I’d still piss off someone from there.
Having said that, you can be sure there’s absolutely no tolerance for Hawaiian pizza with pineapple, no Greek pizza with feta or worst still, an improvised pizza of salami, use of any leftover white cheese left in the fridge or the use of canned mushrooms.
I will be in Greece soon and although I’ll be elbow deep in fabulous Greek food, pizza will not be one of the foods I will enjoy.
Greeks (in Greece) love pizza but it’s not pizza as the Italians or American Italians know it. Frankly, by and large it’s horrible!
I still shudder at the use of leftover cheeses such as Gouda, Milner or even grated Kasseri as a topping. It gets worse…no pepperoni but greasy salami or ham becomes the meat portion.
There’s very little sauce on the pizza and jarred or canned mushrooms make even the decent made pizzas soggy!
There are some good pizza makers in Greece now but the bad still outnumber the good pizzerias. The Greeks have always made wonderful dough and pizza crust and lately I’m seeing wood burning ovens and the use of more traditional pizza ingredients.
If it sounds like I’m slamming pizza in Greece, well I am. However, I’m doing you a favour…you’ll be well rewarded by instead eating local, fresh and regional Greek cuisine. Leave the pizza behind for movie night or the big game. You’re on vacation…eat local, eat Greek…why not try out the Ladenia or go old skool and have a whack at the Pizza Margherita.
(makes 1 large pizza or 2 small)
For the Dough
1 cup warm water
1/2 tsp. sugar
1/8 cup olive oil
1 heaping tsp. active dry yeast
1/2 tsp. salt
Approx. 3 – 3 1/4 cups of all-purpose flour
For the Topping
hand crushed can of San Marzano plum tomatoes
2-3 cloves of minced garlic
salt and pepper to taste
fresh Mozzarella cheese
hand-torn fresh basil leaves
Pre-heated 400F oven
- In a large bowl, add your yeast, sugar, and warm water and allow about 7-10 minutes to activate (as evidenced with the bubbling). Now add your salt and olive oil add about 2 cups of flour into the mixture. Keep on adding flour while kneading on a floured work surface until your dough is pliable and no longer sticks to your hands. NOTE: (flour amounts vary from 3 to 3 1/4 cups flour, depending on the weather you are experiencing and how the flour and yeast react.
- Spread some olive oil on your round baking pan and sprinkle some fine semolina flour. Roll out your pizza dough to the size of pizza you desire. You may now preheat your oven.
- After hand-crushing your plum tomatoes, tear them up and spread the tomatoes over the surface of your dough. Season with some salt and pepper and sprinkle the minced garlic and dried oregano over the sauce.
- Now cut (or hand tear) your Mozzarella cheese and spread it over the surface of your pizza (do not entirely cover your pizza with cheese, it will melt).
- Bake on the middle rack for 15-20 minutes or until the edges start to brown and your cheese has just melted and browned just a bit.
- As soon as the pizza is out of the oven, tear your basil leaves and spread them over the surface of the pizza.
- Serve immediately with cold beer or a bottle of good red wine.
© 2008 – 2009,
. All rights reserved.