From a national-popular dish to an expression of creativity, talent and selection of the material. Thus the great ransom came true
Have we ever wondered when and how it happened that pizza became a new gourmet experience proposed by our beloved pizza makers and sought after by the most skeptical food lovers in the world? I did, I wondered, precisely one evening. I was in Naples. I was in her womb. I was in line. But it wasn’t a normal line! It was an inhuman line: it never ended and while we all had games on the windows of the telephone, I could not escape the out of tune sound of those different languages that together with mine intoned a single hope: but when is it my turn? Finally the sweaty and awaited moment arrives. Within. A quick glance around the room and I concentrate at my table. Simple. Eyes on the menu and the embarrassment of choice is resolved with one of the most classic classics of tradition. And I want to go deeper into it. “Una Margherita” and while the order arrives in the kitchen, I cannot help but wonder how it is possible that that simplicity has crossed worlds and times while remaining (always?) True to itself. The pizza arrives. The perfume is intoxicating and is recognized in all its elements. I raise it. Perfect cooking.
The first bite is never forgotten and in a moment I enter Naples with all its world in my mouth. The second bite, however, quickly leads me to a consideration. Once upon a time there was pizza that discredited. Remember when you were looking for a nice restaurant to spend the evening? The first thing we did was to deviate from any sign bearing the words “Ristorante-Pizzeria” or, even worse, “Trattoria-Pizzeria”. Those we left to the dead days of the week. We even left them for lunch, if really necessary. At some point, however, what happened? Pizza has become the central element of a research that has elevated it to the undisputed principle of gourmet experiences. The controversy raised by Briatore regarding the cost of a pizza clearly demonstrates what they want to say. But it’s not about how much a Margherita or another gourmet pizza should cost. I would like to understand how it happened that the people’s food pizza became “gourmet”.
What then, for heaven’s sake, is a beautiful thing! But behind there is the will and research of the chefs or just the great instagrammable power of pizza? Perhaps we know the precise moment of this passage: or rather, the precise hands of those who inaugurated this “promotion” belong to the Veronese chef Padoan. Padoan has put very high quality ingredients on the pizza and, in fact, has elevated it to a new level. Then the others came. But I remember a young, very young pizza chef who in those days was not yet who he is today. That young pizza chef, many years ago, had made me a “simple pizza – he told me – but with one thing on top that you won’t find easily”. And on top of it he put the Roman tanned, the oldest cheese in the world. Simple? Roman tanned? Years and years and years ago? For the uninitiated, that young pizza chef today is the great pizza chef Ciro Salvo. And then pizza, it must be said, has always been a revolution on the one hand and revolutionary on the other. It was revolutionary when it became the representative of a very specific social segment. We certainly do not forget some journalists who titled their blogs as follows: “pizza comes from below”, “it is the food of the people”.
But pizza was a revolution because it was capable of overturning imposed orders: today it can be eaten with caviar or combined with superfine bubbles. But it’s not just this. Because pizza has already been a revolution in its key elements, the dough and the leavening, the subject of constant research and landing on the best techniques and raw materials. So, let’s say yes to pizza on the sign of restaurants and trattorias, but today it must necessarily indicate a new and concrete certainty: values in the foundations and creativity in ideas. Whether it is gourmet, whether it is traditional, whether it is Margherita, whether it is from Cracco, whether it is from Naples or the Masanielli from Caserta, as long as it is perfect.