a bonus tidbit on pizza -- 3/22/15

A bonus tidbit on pizza! On Thursday of this week, we had a selection on the origins of pizza in Naples. In response, one of our readers whose family is from Italy shared a wonderful memory on that subject we thought you might enjoy:

"Using the blank piece of bread for a slate to hold condiments might have been the idea in Naples, but the farmers in the countryside were the original creators of pizza, from the word pizzetta meaning 'piece.' Wednesdays was bread making days in my mother's home town and the women would send the men to work that day with the old loaves of bread filled with tomato salad called a 'culloucce' in the Ischia dialect. And one day a week in any Campania farm house was bread making day.

"At the end of the day the bread making women had all these little pieces of dough left over and were too tired to make a formal meal, which was required of them the rest of the week. So they flattened these small pieces of bread, added whatever they had in the kitchen to the top, and baked them in the stone oven. By now the oven, heated by wood fire, was not hot enough to bake a lump of dough but if it was flattened it would cook through.

"The two sides of the bread in Campania mostly had the sour dough starter, biga. It was kept in an earthenware crock in the kitchen. It was placed in the rafters in the winter, where heat rising kept it warm and it was placed on the earthen or stone floor in summer, which was the coolest spot so it wouldn't 'bloom' too fast.

"Esposito's, [was] the pizzaiolo mentioned in the article -- the last name Esposito came from 'senza esse sposata' meaning 'without being married.' When the women of Naples gave birth to children without having a formal husband in the registry, that child's last name would be Esposito."

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