Pizza in Italy - Assisi's Best

There is a pizza restaurant in Assisi, it’s very good. I often stop there with groups. I am not going to name names; your Tour Director will know it or a suitable alternative. I normally loathe to suggest restaurants directly, pure cowardice, I don’t want to be blamed for someone having a less than perfect lunch.

Anyway, this place is run by Neapolitans and they know their way around a pizza. I know what I am talking about here, my mother was born in Molise (south eastern Italy), my father came from Tuscany and he was a chef. In the lifetime I have known her I have never seen my mother have any pizza other than a Margherita. It is not that she lacks the ability to accept change; it is just that, for her, a pizza is cheese, tomato and fresh basil.

Margherita Pizza

wEnDy/Via Flickr

En route to Assisi I like to chat about Italian food, explaining some of the basics of the Italian approach to the kitchen and ingredients. The over-riding approach seems to be, if you have good ingredients you will, normally, end up with good results. I tell groups that all Italians have a favorite type of pasta and sauce (Penne Arrabiata if you’re asking) and that pizza topping is, generally, limited to no more than 2 or 3 things. Restaurants in tourist areas will often provide a menu with 40 different types of pizza, many containing a multitude of toppings, but to Italians, the pizza is a simple, dare I say classic, affair.

On one occasion, driving from Florence, I asked my group about their favorite type of pizza. The driver became interested in the conversation; he didn’t speak English but had heard the words, pasta, pizza and Arrabiata. He asked what was going on, I explained that the group was telling me what toppings they liked to have on pizza. I mentioned pineapple. The following 10 minutes were some of the most enjoyable I have had on a bus. At first, he got me to repeat it several times as he did not trust the translation. When we finally settled on the fact I had indeed said pineapple (ananas) he looked stunned. I may as well have tried to convince him that I invented the beard. He carried on driving, occasionally he would mutter “pizza” slowly followed by “ananas”, this went on for a while, and he was in mild shock. Cultural difference, it is our stock trade. However, never had I seen quite how dangerous it could be.

A final piece of advice. To an Italian “pepperoni” means bell pepper. You already know how to say pineapple.

What is your favorite food to eat in Italy? 

(Editor’s note: Add Paul on Google+ If you have a question about for EF Tour Director Paul Mattesini, or an idea for a blog post topic, you can email Paul here, and he will answer readers’ questions in future blog posts.)
Topics: Food, Italy

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