Show me the Pizza!
THERE’S VERY LITTLE IN MY WORLD THAT A FOOT MASSAGE AND A THIN-CRUST, EVERYTHING-ON-IT PIZZA WON’T SET RIGHT. G.A. McKevett
I have no idea who 'G.A McKevett' is but they could be my long lost twin. I love pizza and my current favourite is from our local pizza van. It's called an Oriental and it's topped with ham, chicken, peppers and mushrooms. Tim is more of a meat feast man, on a BBQ sauce base. And we're both partial to a slice of left-over pizza for breakfast the next day. So on a scale of 1 to 10, how happy will we be on February 9th, National Pizza Day? It's a big fat stuffed-crust 10!
National Pizza Day
We are very lucky because we live close to the city of Limoges and TripAdvisor tells me that there are 27 pizza restaurants. At the minute though we have a local pizza van only a few minutes drive away. They're delicious pizzas too, lovely, fresh and hot from the oven. On a busy delivery day it saves cooking and saves on the washing up. It's easy to understand why pizzas are so popular. They're are so many variations - plenty of different toppings and bases; gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan options. Pizzas are fairly inexpensive and they are a fairly safe family meal option, for adults and children. So I suppose it's no surprise that there is a National Pizza Day. (There's also International Beer and Pizza Day on October 9th. That's circled on my calendar too).
But the question is, will you be celebrating Pizza Day next week, and if so, how?
Hot tub pizza
It's possibly one of the few foods that I wouldn't recommend eating in the hot tub, unless you are very careful. The drinks holder on the Burford Deluxe does comfortable fit a couple of bottles of chilled Peroni. So maybe we just need to set up a floating tray to balance the pizza box on. But there's nothing to stop you indulging in a few slices of your favourite savoury Italian dish before or after a long soak in the tub. And if you're having pizza you just have to serve it with an Italian drink. If you're a beer drinker then Tim says Peroni pairs well with a meat feast. But I think a good Italian Rose wine is also a good choice.
The word "pizza" first appeared in a Latin text from the town of Gaeta, in Southern Italy in 997 AD; the text states that a tenant of certain property is to give the bishop of Gaeta duodecim pizze ("twelve pizzas") every Christmas Day, and another twelve every Easter Sunday - Wikipedia
Pizza through the ages
References to pizza-type food go all the way back to the 6th century, when Persian soldiers baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their shields. The Ancient Greeks then added oils and herbs, but who is going to own up to adding chunks of pineapple?
All credit to the Italians though for creating this delicious savoury dish. It's so simple too - a round flattened base of dough topped with tomatoes, cheese, herbs and other ingredients. Quick to cook, easy to eat and the best versions are the ones cooked the traditional way, in a wood-fired oven.
Create your own
I have to admit that although I do like the Oriental from the pizza van, sometimes it's good to make my own. I would probably do it more often if we had a pizza oven in the garden, maybe next door to Timmy's tavern.
If you fancy giving it a try there's a good pizza dough recipe from the River Cottage chef, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall. But if you can't get all the ingredients, and don't want all the mess, then most supermarkets sell the pre-made pastry in the chiller area. Perhaps I'll try this out next week though, and share a few photos.
For the pizza dough:
500g bread flour (usually white)
10g fine sea salt
5g dried or fast-action yeast 350ml warm water
2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
Cornmeal, or fine polenta or semolina, for dusting (optional)
For the quick tomato sauce (optional):
2 tablespoons rapeseed or olive oil
1 garlic clove, finely sliced
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes (or 1 tin plus a jar of passata)
A pinch of sugar
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Get in touch
If you've got any favourite toppings or can recommend any great pizza restaurants in France why not share them with us? You can post your comments on Facebook or email me and I'll add them for you. Let's all celebrate National Pizza Day in style next week with friends, family and all our favourite toppings. Buon appetito! Bon appetit! And Happy Hot Tubbing.