Join us this February 9 as we honor National Pizza Day! The wonderful pie grew to become a symbol of designed craft everywhere it is found. Let’s hear it for pizza!
Why not celebrate the origin of pizza with a wonderful glass of wine at a place that makes pizza just like they did for Queen Margherita 130 years ago!
Though flatbreads with toppings were enjoyed by ancient Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians, Pizza as we know it originated in Naples, Italy.
Legend says that in 1889 when King Umberto I visited Queen Margherita, the couple became bored with their steady diet of French food and asked their local Pizzeria Brandi for an array of pizzas. The variety Margherita loved the most was called pizza mozzarella, a sort of pie made with delicious white cheese.
Pizza didn’t become so incredibly delicious until the 40s, when Italian immigrants introduced Pizza to New Yorkers, making it an iconic culinary statement.
If you are interested in more info about this delicious day, you can read the article of NATIONAL TODAY – and you can find out about many more National Day celebrations during the year.
Last year we dug into the history of one of the most characteristic Italian Christmas traditional food: “il Panettone.”
Though, this luxurious decadent bread is not the only way Italians like to end up their festive meals. There is another contestant on the table: “Pandoro” (Golden bread)
It is pretty standard in every family that at the end of the meal, the fierce debate will start upon the choice of the cake. Provided you still have room in your tummy, you will have to pick which delicious loaf will be sealing off the heaviest meal of the year: a slice of Panettone or a slice of Pandoro?
What is the story behind Pandoro?
Like all traditional food, it is tough to trace its real origins. Some say it was an evolution from an Austrian Christmas cake. Others trace it even back to Roman times where Pliny the Elder described in a book written in the 1st century the preparation of a sweet bread made of butter and eggs for Xmas Eve. Some others believe it might be an evolution of a sweet bread made with eggs, sugar, and butter, dusted or even covered in Gold by Venetian bakers and offered at very luxurious banquets.
However, the most common story might be an evolution of a traditional Christmas cake made in Verona in the early 19th century called Nadalin. Nadalin in Venetian dialect is the equivalent of Natalino in Italian or Christmasy. This soon-to-be-famous cake was baked to celebrate the first Christmas under the Scaligeri family that ruled Verona from 1262 to 1387.
Originally it was only made with butter, flour, sugar, and yeast and shaped like an 8 points star. No eggs were used, but still, it was so spongy and soft that it immediately became a success among Verona’s people.
Hence, on the 14th of October 1894, the Industrial Property Certificate from the Ministry of Agriculture, Industry, and Commerce of the Kingdom of Italy granted for 3 years to Mr. Melegatti in Verona the trademark for the name, the recipe, and the shape of a Christmas cake called Pandoro. Compared to its ancestor, the Nadalin, the recipe added eggs to the dough, making it taller. Its mold was designed by the famous artist Angelo dall’Oca Bianca.
Until 1950 where Italy turned more industrial, the Pandoro was mainly eaten in Verona. However, the demand for the golden cake began to rise once millions of people left the countryside to seek jobs in the city, so first Melegatti and then other rivals companies such as Bauli or Paluani became the industrialization process. At the end of the ’60, Pandoro was available to everyone in most supermarkets all over the National territory.
Just as for his rival Panettone, the making of Pandoro requires a lot of work and dedication. It must rise for more than 10 hours, and the dough needs 6 or seven rounds. The golden loaf has no raisins or candied fruits inside, but the rich buttery texture will be so decadent to melt in your mouth at the first bite.
Traditionally Pandoro is left on the radiator while enjoying the Christmas meal. The butter will be softening the dough while the rich vanilla aroma will spread around the house. There is a bag of vanilla powdered sugar to sprinkle on the cake before slicing it in the box. You can dust it gently directly on the sliced goodie or pour it into the bag and shake it vigorously to ensure no surface is left unserved.
Even though Pandoro is appreciated for its simple recipe, there are now versions with custard cream, chocolate chips, chocolate cream, or other gourmet creams such as Lemoncello or Pistacchio.
The most common way to serve it is just by slicing it vertically and having some custard or mascarpone cream on the side. However, it is often sliced horizontally for a more scenic presentation, and its slices are piled up to compose a Christmas Tree. For an extra treat, before dusting it with sugar, pour some custard or chocolate cream on the top and let it dribble.
In the unlikely event of any leftover, Pandoro is often eaten even after the holidays for breakfast with a little bit of jam or dipped into caffe latte. Otherwise, the slices are often used to make versions of Tiramisù, Zuccotto with Chocolate, or even rolls up with cream or jam. So undoubtedly, it gets never wasted.
So, which team will you be on this Christmas? Pandoro or Panettone?
If you have ever been to a top-quality Italian Restaurant (like us), you surely have noticed that some of the most gourmet pizzas are with Buffalo Mozzarella.
But if you want to be sure, you need to ask about its origins. Italians like to certify the origin of their “flag products,” hence Mozzarella. So if this delicious world-famous cheese comes from the Region of Campania, it will be labeled as a DOC product (“Controlled designation of origin”). However, in 1996, the EU added an extra-label PDO(Protected Designation of Origin). The Policy Document states they can only produce it in the 3 regions and specifically in the provinces of:
Napoli, Caserta, Salerno and Benevento, in Campania
Latina, Frosinone and Rome, in Lazio
Venafro, in Molise
Foggia, in Puglia
If your Mozzarella di Bufala is made in other places in Italy or the rest of the world, it will still be good, of course, but not as divine as it should be.
A step back in time
So how did the Buffalos end up in Italy? And why make cheese made out of their milk?
First, we need to point out that we are talking about a particular race of bovine, originally from Asia, called Water Buffalo, as they prefer muddy soils. Their hooves are broad and splayed so they can move freely into a murky environment, and they might even dive on the beds of lakes and rivers looking for food.
There are several theories on how these particular animals arrived in Italy and, above all, in Campania.
Still, as usual, it is pretty much impossible to find out which version is the correct one. Some versions go way back to the Romans. However, according to the Consorzio Tutela Mozzarella di Bufala Camapana DOP, it was most likely to be around the 10th Century, after the invasion of the Moors and the Saracens. About a half-century later, the swamps in the actual Region of Campania were wholly recovered and became a perfect environment to breed the strong buffalos.
Until the XII Century, the animals were bred and used probably only by the monks of the monastery of San Lorenzo in Capua. We have written proof that the monks offered a piece of bread and a “mozza” to the Pilgrims. Any produce from Buffalo Milk was costly, and for a while, it was only destined to the rich market. Then in the 15th Century, people started breeding animals in circular constructions called “bufalare.” More buffalos meant better availability of milk, hence more types of cheese made: provola, caciocavallo, ricotta, and even butter. And it was in 1570 that, for the first time, a cookbook mentioned the word “Mozzarella.”
The term “mozzarella” comes from the Italian verb “mozzare,” an operation still practiced today in all the dairies. It consists of forging the piece of filata curd by hand, detaching the single mozzarella balls with the forefinger and thumb, getting the typical round shape of the Mozzarella.
If you have never seen it before, we suggest you watch the procedure in this video. Unfortunately, the video is only in Italian, but you can understand just by watching the “Mastro Casaro” making a braided mozzarella and then a regular one (skip to minute 8.00)
Nowadays, the Buffalo Mozzarella comes in a variety of shapes and sizes:
Classical round shape starting from only ten grams (bead, cherry, or bocconcini) to up to 3 kgs
Knots and braids
Plain or smoked
How to recognize a real buffalo Mozzarella from a regular Fior di Latte?
Let us give you a few tips!
More elastic due to higher fat content (almost a 1/3 more)
A more intense flavor with a higher hint of acidity
It releases more liquid when cut open
La zizzona di Battipaglia
A romantic tale behind a very famous Mozzarella: la Zizzona di Battipaglia We all know how Italians are famous for their romantic gestures and tales: think of Romeo and Juliet, for example! So we have a romantic tale even behind a very particular type of Mozzarella, called la Zizzona, which in Italian means big breast.
The legend tells that the Nymph Bapti-Palia milked the buffalos to produce the Mozza in the morning.
Only the Gods could enjoy this divine food, but one day she met a handsome young shepherd named Tusciano. He was on the other side of the river, and she fell in love immediately with him. Then, as proof of her love, she told him about the Mozza, and Tusciano ran to the village to share the story with all the people instead of keeping it a secret. The Gods got furious and punished the two lovers. They were separated and destined to wander without ever meeting again. However, the Nymph became the city of Battipaglia (protector of a unique worldwide product), and the river Tusciano runs around it, embracing his lover.
If you want to eat the real Mozzarella di Bufala, come and try some of our exclusive dishes such as “Prosciutto e Bufala”, or our Margherita DOP!
The Italian Flag, also called the “Tricolore,” features three equally sized vertical pales of green, white, and red.
The Italian Constitution states that the green is on the left side, followed by the white and the red, and regulates its use, display, and protection. Damaging or offending the Tricolore can be punished with a fine from 1,000 Euros up to 5,000. If this offense will be carried out during a ceremony, a festivity, and so on, the penalty is double. Anyone who publicly and intentionally destroys, throws away, damages, makes useless, or stains the national Flag will be punished with a 2-year sentence in jail.
So even if the Italian Flag is not usually displayed outside home and business, Italians care about it as much as the US does.
“A Flag is Born.”
What is the meaning behind the colors, you might wonder?
As always, there are a few versions of the story:
green for hope; white for faith and red for charity,
green for the hills, white for the mountains, and red for the bloody wars for independence,
green for freedom, white for faith and purity, and red for love.
However, if we look at facts, we know that the Flag was initially inspired by the French one, identical in form, but the green replaces the blue. The Tricolore made its first appearance in the late 1790s. In Northern Italy, the Republic of Cispadane adopted the Flag as a sister Republic of Revolutionary France during the French Revolution. Later on, it was also adapted by the Lombard Region.
At the time, Italy was formed by several independent Republics, which one by one started to adopt the Tricolore, usually adding a logo in the middle to get distinguished. On the 23rd March 1848, the Flag was used by Italian troops in battle against the Austrian army, making it an official symbol of the Italian confederation.
The following month, the Flag was adopted by the Kingdom of Sardinia. Finally, in 1861, it became the official Flag of the Kingdom of Italy.
When Italy was officially united as a monarchy under the Royal House of Savoy in 1861, a shield, cross, and Crown were added to the center of the Flag’s three stripes.
However, until 1925, when the model of the National Flag was defined by law, there were different shapes and standards all over the territory. The Italian Flag also spread among political exiles, becoming the symbol of the struggle for independence and the claim to have more liberal constitutions.
On 17th March 1946, Italy became a Republic. Accordingly, the symbol of the Savoy Crown was removed, but the green, white and red stripes remained!
Since 1996, on 7th January, Italy celebrates “la Festa del Tricolore” to commemorate the first time it was officially adopted as a Flag on the same day in 1797.
It is not a Public Holiday; however, there are celebrations in the town of Reggio Emilia, where the Flag was displayed for the first time as a symbol of the Cispadana Republic. Also, in Rome, at the Quirinale Palace, a change of the Guard takes place to honor in solemn form with the deployment. Furthermore, there is a parade of the Corazzieri Regiment in gala uniform and the Fanfare of the Carabinieri Cavalry Regiment.
This particular ritual takes places only three times a year, once on the Tricolore Day, and then on 17th March to celebrate the Anniversary of the Unification of Italy, and then on 2nd June to celebrate “la Festa della Repubblica” and finally on 4th November for “Giornata dell’Unità Nazionale e delle Forze Armate.”
If you want to taste the Italian Flag, come by and try our appetizers. Bandiera Italiana is a delicious Mozzarella di Bufala with oven-roasted Bell Peppers and basil leaves. Or a refreshing Caprese Salad: alternated mozzarella and tomato slices, topped with fresh basil and balsamic vinegar.
Then, of course, let’s not forget that some of the legends around Pizza will also state that it was invented to honor the Italian Flag.