It’s been a whole pandemic since I was last in Rome, and I got a feeling it’ll be a while before I get back there. But when I do, one of the first things I’m gonna do is hunt down one of the new Mr Go pizza machines from this ABC story.
The Romans, as you’d imagine, are outraged, even though they didn’t even invent modern pizza. That was Raffaele Esposito, who threw together the first Margherita in Naples on June 11, 1889.
He named it in honour of Italy's queen consort, Margherita of Savoy, during her visit to Naples with King Umberto I. He used tomatoes, mozzarella and basil leaves to represent the colours of the flag of a recently united Italy — red, white and green.
The nice thing about pizza in Italy, especially in Rome, is you can it get it anywhere. It cheap and ubiquitous. But to be honest, it’s not always good. When we were there just before the Great Pando shut everything down, we stayed in the ancient inner city village of Trastevere. It was full of tiny bars and cafes and holes-in-the-wall serving up rectangular slices.
Some of them were great, and when we found them I made a note - because a lot of places were serving up hot garbage. Or lukewarm garbage. Tasteless cardboard slabs of shit cheese and tinned tomato juice.
The thing about a machine, though? It does the same thing over and over again. If these Mr Go kiosks are better than a significant number of the tourist trap pizzerias, they’ll be everywhere within five years.
The guy behind them seems to understand his market. He’s not making restaurant quality slices for picky gourmands. He’s offering a baseline product for drunks and students and drunken students at three in the morning.
Given the shit we’ve all pushed into our faces at that time of the morning, I reckon Mr Go just needs to be okay.
an old trick I have learned on my travels was to ask some gal or guy at the hotel where I was staying where to locals would eat. And never eat in your hotel ;-)
Boy I wish I would have had a Mr. Go handy when I was in Rome. Long story short, I had one of the worst pizzas of my life there.
The pizza that caught on in New York after WW2, and later the world, was actually Sicilian pizza.
I remember having excellent pizza in Trastevere. Maybe lucky? Was the place in the block behind the apartment we were renting. Oh, how I'd love to go back! Wonderful place. Did you make it to the local markets? There's a guy there who specializes in tomatoes. Whole shop that only sells tomatoes. Wouldn't sell us any until we told him what we were going to use them for. Worth it.
Pizza is essentially the perfection of the ham cheese and tomato sandwich, already the perfect sandwich, open and toasted. Some variation in "ham" allowed for art's sake.
Whatever happened to the hot chip vending machines that were promised a while back?
as principles of cooking (or indeed life) focus and do only one or two things well seems to be a reasonable philosophy.