How long does it take to cook a pizza in a wood-burning oven? Who is the pizza Margherita named after? Do Italian pizzaioli (pizza makers) really throw the pizzas in the air? If you answered “about two minutes, Queen Margherita of Italy, and of course not” you might have been at the Umbra pizza night the other night, as these were among the questions that were bandied around between students and staff.
Pizza has obscure origins, mostly because flat bread baked with vegetables on top is a recipe common to many early cuisines around the Mediterranean basin. But pizza as we know it started in Naples, in southern Italy many years ago. It was poor man’s food until the Queen of Italy, the famous Margherita, decided she could not resist the delicacy. She noted also the color combination of the red-white-green made from the tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil, which of course was and is the color of the Italian flag. She hired her own pizza chef, and soon pizza became all the rage and defined itself as the food that symbolized Italy.
Nealy all pizzerias in Italy make their pizzas in wood-fired ovens which creates a unique and of course incredibly delicious taste…and that’s Umbra and local students got to savor this past Thursday at the traditional and monthly Umbra Pizza Night.