The idea of authenticity in cookery has become powerful, courtesy of research-heavy recipe books ... Elizabeth David, Jane Grigson etc. The writer visits archive / goes abroad, finds a recipe, preferably a peasant recipe, and sets it in stone. It becomes the grail to which the rest of us must aspire. This is followed by a trip to the supermarket for far-flung ingredients - a couple of decades ago, this was fraught with difficulty (you needed a back-up plan, because it was likely that even the biggest and best supermarkets didn't stock, say, Puy lentils, or coarsely-ground polenta). These days authenticity is less work, as we (in the west) expect to be able to buy what we want when we want, regardless of geography or nature.
The problem with authenticity is that life isn't like that. The peasant will make the dish with whatever comes to hand (or not make it because it is no longer possible/seasonal). It will change subtly over the course of a season: the ingredients are local because they are not flown in from the other side of the world, or trucked in from the other side of the continent. And when the recipe moves to another locality, it is altered to fit in with the new circumstances, sometimes resulting in a completely new dish. This approach is now, in the West at least, history (although there are plenty of people who think it's going to be forced on us soon by an energy crisis).
All this by way of introduction to a passage about pizza in Majorca: the pizza can be traced back to the Etruscans; at the Pizza Museum in Italy, historical research based on archaeological excatavtions refers specifically to the portada, a round savoury tart identical to (Majorcan) coca de verdures. What we have (in Majorca) is the authentic pizza which the Romans taught us to make when they settled on the island; we've carried on making it in exactly the same way. There are more than 400 recognized ways of making pizza, and 1,000 variants of each recipe; everyone has added his own particular stamp."
Two thoughts: authenticity here is understood to be a method rather than a recipe. And I bet the 400,000 recipes don't include pizza with ham and pineapple, or with vindaloo. Each - mystifyingly - much loved in their countries of origin (both far from the Mediterranean).
This post is prompted by Tomas Graves's book, Bread and Oil, Majorcan Culture's Last Stand. Too early to say exactly what I think of it, as I'm only on page 46, but so far it's interesting, if a little fierce.
The photograph is of a potato pizza I made recently. It seems such an odd combination, but it is one which works well (so long as you ignore the health police, who seem to have it in for potatoes, but that's a whole 'nother story for another day). Mine wasn't good enough to pass on the recipe, but if you're interested in making one, you should consult Tanna at My Kitchen in Half Cups.
White pizza with fennel seeds
Pizza bianca with rosemary
Pizza for lunch
River Cafe pizza dough
Links to pizza on other blogs
Susan at Farmgirl Fare is a great baker, setting up her own bakery, and knows a thing or two about pizza ... there are lots on her site
Lemon pizza from the Wednesday Chef .. yes, I'm not sure about that one, either ;)
Gluten-free pizza from Karina's Kitchen
Recommending ... - ... Planet Bach, movingly presented by Clemency Burton-Hill.
1 month ago