By Michael Nolan
Picking up where we left off last time, we were talking about Vincenzo Corrado’s efforts with regard to tomatoes.
He recommended stuffing them with garlic, anchovy, parsley, oregano, salt and pepper, then sprinkling with bread crumbs and oil and baking them in the oven.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Okay, maybe not the anchovies…
The world’s first pizzeria would open in Naples in 1830, and two generations of pizza cooks (pizzaioli) would claim to have made pizza for Kings Ferdinand I and II which is likely, as Ferdinand I also had a pizza oven put in the kitchen of his Capodimonte estate — at the insistence of his lovely wife, Maria Caroline.
I guess it would be correctly deduced that by this point, Italians were all about tomatoes, as it was about this time in history that the Italians were among the first to plant tomatoes in their country gardens.
The local pizzaioli is also credited during this period with being the first to put tomatoes on pizza. In the late 1880s, pizzaioli Raffaele Esposito created a pizza to honor his Queen (Margherita) that included red tomatoes, white mozzarella and green basil — the colors of the Italian flag.
In a book penned by Silvio Salvatore Gargiulo and published in 1922, was found this poem, entitled “The Tomato”:
A thin strand of pasta returns from exile
and tomato sauce laughs happily…
garlic, onion and even the saucepan
all go into rapture.
The tomato sauce cries with joy
because she has been alone for so long
She says: Come here, my beauty,
my husband, come and comfort me
And with an embrace the party began
Everyone attaching half a kilo apiece!