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Neapolitan Cuisine
Neapolitan Cuisine

Traditional Neapolitan cooking can be quite complex, and is known for both simple dishes like pizza and elaborate meals. Pizza, macaroni, and spaghetti were the main meals of the less wealthy unless a special occasion presented itself. A religious festival always called for more elaborate and varied dishes. People could sit at a table with a rich, abundant meal and fill up for the rest of the year, or at least until the next festivity. Often, a quick snack was preferred. People would gather around the "maccaronaro", an old-time snack bar, where they stood outside waiting for a hot meal that could be eaten without the necessity of a table. The food that responded best to the demands of the "take it or leave it" life of the poor was pizza. Pizza was a flat bread made of slightly leavened water and flour, mixed with diluted bacon-fat and with pieces of tomato, slices of mozzarella, and basil leaves. It could come with olive oil, tomato pieces, fresh anchovies, oregano or garlic, and was cooked in a baker's oven with plenty of well-heated wood. It used to be eaten folded in four or simply folded over once.

Pizza's history goes back to the 16th century, when the fragrant and tasty solanaceae plant was introduced into Europe from Peru. Pizza was the favorite among the poor, the middle class, and even at the Court. In the woods of Capodimonte, the wife of Ferdinando IV, Maria Carolina, had a special pizza oven built to make her own meals and those of her guests more enjoyable. The final addition to pizza came in the 19th century with the introduction of mozzarella, which was added to the tomato. Tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza was named Margherita pizza to commemorate Queen Margherita, who considered it her favorite food. Over the centuries, pizza has remained more or less unchanged although some additions were made by the "pizzaioli" (pizza-makers) who continue to amuse themselves with original toppings. The atmosphere of the typical pizzeria has also undergone little change and it is still an atmospheric, lively place that welcomes everyone.

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