Folktown and pizza

Twenty five years ago I read that a pizza shop in Newcastle, County Down, created a maternity pizza which was a plain cheese and tomatoe thin crust pizza with banana and tuna and its still on the menu as the maternity pizza!!!

At the slightly rejigged Folktown market there is a pizza horse box-more shortly. Firstly the additional stalls at this city farmers market are a fruit and veg stall, another popcorn stand and Belfast Cookery School had a van also,there was also a doughnut stall and Curry Sauce NI. I was presented with a bag of all things chicken from the Market Butcher-more next week.

Now more about the Pizza Box. Jamie from Glengormley got a horse box and converted it into a wood fired pizza box last year. The oven was specially made by a company in England. Ever since he has been busy, good selection and price (I tried some of the veggie pizza). The pizzas take 10 minutes to make and well worth the wait.

The humble pizza was first recorded as a dish in AD 997 in a Latin manuscript in Lazio, Italy. The modern pizza was born in Naples in the late 18th/ early 19th century and it came to the USA with Italian migrants in 1905. Lombardi’s was the first US pizzeria. In 2009 the Neapolitan Pizza was safeguarded in the EU as a Traditional Special Guaranteed dish.

It is in effect a flat bread with toppings. It shares a common etymology with Greek/Latin word pitta. So there are similarities and variants eg pitta pockets, stromboli, calzone and of course the pizza.

Pizza is cooked usually in a coal or wood fired oven (the best in my opinion as it imparts most flavour). It is also made in conveyor belt type electric or gas ovens. It can also be cooked from first principles (ie make your own dough, sauce and toppings and cook at home usually in a gas or an electric oven on a pizza dish or stone), cooked pre made up (ie from supermarkets or built with pre made bases and add own toppings) or from frozen. This can be bought as slices or whole.

The pizza, if cooked in a restaurant/pizza joint, is usually placed into and removed from oven on a flat utencil (made of aluminium) called a peel. The pizza concept has been adopted and adapted by many different cuisines. For example I have just returned from a trip to Vancouver and had a butter chicken (Indian styled) pizza which had a garlic/ginger/masala tomato base, butter chicken, chilli, cheese and coriander-absolutely beautiful.

The base varies (thin, thick and deep pan), as does the crust-plain or stuffed (I love stuffed as then there is less wastage), then the tomato layer which should be tomato sauce (with onion,garlic and basil) and the toppings and there are as many as the length of your arm, my favourite traditional one is pepperoni, although the butter chicken is my all time favourite!!! Cheese is usually mozarella. Traditionally the pizza is round but when tv chefs get their hands on them they make “rustic” pizza- to me thats just not what pizza should be!!!!

The BelfastFoodMan

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