At its most stripped down definition, evolution is making one thing out of another. When it comes to food, this process has kept many of us occupied for centuries and still does. In terms of pizza it has, in recent years, met with some challenges.
In the very home of the Slow Food Movement, pizza was originally a fast food sold on the street by vendors with warming trays in wooden carts. Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples, which is credited as being the world’s first pizzeria, was built by one such street vendor. This creative pizzaman constructed his pizzeria’s oven with the volcanic stones of Mount Vesuvius in the mid 19th C. It is still in operation. When WWII returning soldiers brought a taste for pizza home with them, its popularity spread across the country. Pizzerias abound and probably outnumber all other ethnic restaurants. In recent years, the pizza evolution has brought itself full circle and pizza in new shapes with new technologies is once again a fast food available from food trucks on the streets.
Though the round shape seems to dominate, pizzas can be square or rectangular. Each form has it proponents. As does each type and combination of topping. These variants can foster debates as fierce as those quarreling over whose football team is better. It is no surprise that “the best pizza”, is a hotly disputed contest. Arguments concerning the merits of brick ovens, wood-burning ovens or charcoal-fired ovens contend with the adherents of thin, medium or thick crusts. Then there is the discussion of pizzeria pizza versus homemade. And we haven’t even whispered the word “anchovies” yet.
My Italian tutor, Jacopo, is from the northern province of Udine. He is a tremendous aficionado of pizza. He is more than adept at making his own and has established seriously discerning criteria for the art form in pizzerias and restaurants. Then he fell in love with a woman who is allergic to gluten. In the months that followed, he tried every gluten free flour he could find. He bought premade, gluten-free dough and sometimes prepared gluten-free pizzas from highly considered providers. His response to the pizzas resulting from all these gluten-free offerings was “schifoso” or disgusting.
A welcome breakthrough occurred when Jacopo remembered his Aunt Mara, a cook of some renown, and her recipe for a potato dough pizza. Though the original recipe called for dusting the potato dough with regular all-purpose flour, he used a brown rice flour with very positive gluten-free results. Just in time for October, being as it is, National Pizza Month. As is the usual case, you will find pizza recipes on the website including an adaption of Roberta’s of Brooklyn Pizza Dough and Tri Pizza Perfetto. Today we offering Jacopo’s Gluten Free Potato Pizza, an adaptation of his aunt’s recipe. And if you’re interested in slinging your regular pizza dough in the air, here’s a couple of links to show you how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b5fmWs5EJDA and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AbkfDqA8yKg.