A few years ago, when I was on a big fat family holiday in Italy, I insisted on taking a detour from Rome and going south. Not to Sicily, not to Pompeii. But to Naples. Infamously known for its crime, gunshot alleys and gangs, my request was met with indignation. There were far prettier places to visit--why not Amalfi? Why Naples? I remained resolute. When we finally reached there and took our first bite of pizza, everyone finally understood why.
It is the birthplace of pizza
The pizza Napoletana or Neopolitan pizza was born in Naples. Earlier, while flatbreads and breads were enjoyed in Italy, people had a massive mistrust of tomatoes. Brought to the country from Peru and other parts of South & Central America, the Italians believed tomatoes to be poisonous. It wasn’t until the latter half of the 18th century, when Naples was going through a hunger crisis that tomatoes were added to the flatbreads. Voila (or more accurately, ecco), and the pizza was born.
When in Naples, you can have pizza as breakfast, lunch, dinner or anywhere in between. On the streets, you get versions of pizza. The pizza a portofolgio, for instance, is literally translated to a pizza in a wallet. It’s folded up pizza so you can eat it anywhere and at any time without any trouble. You can also indulge in the pizza fritta, which is deep-fried pizza pockets with fillings in between the layers. It is, simply, delicioso.
Not spoilt for choice
The pizza napoletana, in its most authentic form, is also the most basic. In many pizzerias, you will find only one or two options--the pizza marinara and the pizza margherita. The marinara is a plain tomato sauce with garlic, olive oil (and no cheese) on top of the pizza base. The classic margherita adds a healthy dose of mozzarella on top (and is without the garlic).
Tempted to make the trip yourself? Take a pizza enthusiast along for best results, and have a happy meal.