In my latest attempt to cook my way through the food days that are scattered across the year, I took on National Pizza Day – yes, there is such a thing, who’d have thought!
I love a pizza – what’s not to love about a crispy thin base, a rich sweet tomato sauce (with a hint of chilli), gorgeously just-cooked veg, some oily meat, some salty anchovies and velveteen cheese.
I make them fairly frequently at home and I’m convinced that pizza tastes better on a Friday night.
But what I tend to find is that I use the same toppings each time – pepper, mushroom, olive, chorizo, anchovies and mozzarella.
When I vary it the experience only gets better!
Earlier this year we had a glut of figs so I turned to the wonderful Diana Henry for her recipe of rye pizza with figs, fennel, gorgonzola and hazelnuts. All I can say is that I wish I had a glut of fresh figs every week, it was sublime.
If we go out for pizza we always head to the fantastic pub The Old Kings Head in Brockdish, south Norfolk – known locally as The Pizza Pub.
They solely serve pizza and pasta and do it superbly, they also keep wonderful local ale and have more than 100 gins behind the bar. Our favourites are the spiced Norfolk sausage and the caperberry and anchovy pizzas.
Tonight I’m trying a new topping after a visit to Pizza Express in Cambridge where I had Pollo Forza (after a few drinks it must be said) – it was wonderfully spicy and truly memorable.
So, tonight I recreated it – chicken, hot chilli, roasted peppers, garlic oil, mozzarella and tomato.
But let’s get back to the wonder of pizza, here are some facts:
- The written word ‘pizza’ first appeared in a Latin text from a little Italian town in 997 AD. It said that a tenant of a particular property was required to give the bishop of the town twelve pizzas every Christmas Day, and another twelve every Easter Sunday.
- Foods similar to pizza have been made since the Neolithic age.
- In the 6th century BC, Persian soldiers baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their battle shields.
- Modern pizza evolved from similar flatbread dishes in Naples in the 18th century. Prior to that flatbread was often topped with ingredients such as garlic, salt, lard, cheese, and basil.
- A legend says that the pizza Margherita was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned a Neapolitan pizza maker maker to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pizza decorated in the colours of the Italian flag. It is said that this type of pizza was then named after the Queen, although, as with all legends, this is now in doubt.
- Pizza was introduced to the United States by Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century.
- Britain’s favourite pizza is the Margherita, followed by the American pepperoni.
- The world’s largest pizza was made in Rome in 2012, and measured 1,261 square meters.
- The world’s longest pizza was made in Fontana, Califonia in 2017 and measured 1,930.39 meters.
- The world’s most expensive pizza, listed by Guinness World Records, is a commercially available thin-crust pizza at Maze restaurant in London, United Kingdom, which costs £100. The pizza is wood fire-baked, and topped with onion puree, white truffle paste, fontina cheese, bay mozzarella, pancetta, cep mushrooms, freshly picked wild mizuna lettuce and fresh shavings of a rare Italian white truffle.
- Other more expensive pizzas are the £4,200 Pizza Royale 007 at Haggis restaurant in Glasgow, Scotland, which used caviar, lobster, topped with 24-carat gold dust and the $1,000 caviar pizza made by Nino’s Bellissima pizzeria in New York City but these are not officially recognized by Guinness World Records.
What’s your favourite pizza and your chosen pizza eatery of choice?! I’d love to hear all about it.
Next up it’s National Margarita Day on 22 February…cheers!