Confession: I don’t like pizza.
Ok, before you judge, let me rephrase. I don’t like ‘Americanised’ pizza – the greasy type with thick bases and weird toppings like pineapple that you can get from your local Domino’s. At the risk of sounding like a food snob rather than a foodie, I’m going to say that the only pizza worth eating is traditional Neapolitan pizza.
Neapolitan pizza is originally from Campania, Italy. Toppings are Margherita (tomato, oil, mozzarella and basil) or Marinara (tomato, oil, oregano, and garlic) and there are strict guidelines set by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN – True Neapolitan Pizza Association) detailing the preparation and presentation of the pizza. Tomatoes must be San Marzano tomatoes, mozzarella must be certified Protected Designation of Origin (DOP) Campanian buffalo mozzarella and the dough must be predominantly ‘00’ flour – all of which must be cooked in a wood-fired oven and consumed immediately.
The Margherita is my favourite. The red tomatoes and white slices of mozzarella dotted with basil evokes a feeling of patriotism and it is impossible to think of pizza as anything other than Italian despite popular ‘Americanized’ pizzas. The AVPN was created to promote and protect the traditional Neapolitan pizza and this politicisation of food reminds me of the French appelations connecting terroir to regional products.
The AVPN endorse certain establishments around the world so customers like me know they will receive the best at those restaurants. In Melbourne, you can eat true Neapolitan pizza at restaurants of the Gradi group, whose chef, Johnny di Francesco, is the AVPN’s Australasian Principal. If you haven’t already been, go! You won’t regret it (although your wallet might).