As I have said before, Friday nights here at Chez Cooksister are pizza nights. For the rest of the week, I try to cook reasonably balanced and healthy meals: protein, carbohydrates and lots of vegetables. Yes, they are tasty, but these meals do seem to take up pretty much all of my leisure time on weeknights. So come Friday night, I go for the 80/20 rule and abandon all idea of crunchy greenery in favour of a pizza.
For a while after we moved to England, I tried some of the pizza takeaways around here. Hmmm. Mediocre across the board. Yukky bases, ghastly rubber cheese and toppings that are a bridge too far. Chicken tikka masala pizza, anyone? Stuffed crust? Blech. So eventually I settled on a compromise of buying Tesco Organic Margherita bases and adding my own toppings. Not quite home-made, but not quite fast food either. Perfectly balanced.
There’s no rocket science involved in the pizza pictured here. I might just as well have called this post Hooked on Classics because the mozzarella/tomato/basil combination just does not come more classic than this. My particular toppings were buffalo mozzarella, fresh basil (added after the pizza was cooked) and yet more of my delicious slow-roasted tomatoes.
In fact, this combination is one of the traditional Neapolitan pizza toppings – and let me assure you, these guys take their pizza seriously. Really seriously. So serious, in fact, that in 2004, dismayed at the international bastardization of their culinary heritage, the Italian Agriculture Ministry and professional pizza-makers drew up a document for the EU detailing what may and may not be called a traditional Neapolitan pizza. The document was even published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale, a publication usually reserved for legal notices. The rules stipulate the type of flour and yeast that may be used and also include things like:
- the dough should be allowed to rise for at least six hours;
- the dough should be kneaded and shaped into a disc by hand, without the aid of a rolling pin;
- the pizza should be round and no more than 35cm in diameter, with a maximum thickness of 0.3cm in the centre, rising to 2cm at the crust; and
- the pizza must be cooked in a wood-fired oven.
It is also stipulated that there are only three traditional toppings for a Neapolitan pizza: Marinara (garlic and oregano), Margherita (basil, tomatoes and cheese from the southern Apennine mountains); and Extra Margherita (like the previous pizza but must contain buffalo mozzarella from the Campania region). Only if all these requirements are fulfilled will the pizza carry the coveted TSG label (guaranteed traditional speciality), meaning that Neapolitan pizza is now protected in much in the same way as products like feta or Roquefort cheese, and port or sherry wine.
Like I said, these guys mean business.
So at the risk of running foul of EU legislation, I’d like to propose that my efforts here also be given a TSG designation:
Truly, Scrumptiously Good.