What does the word 'pizza' conjure up for you?
Friday nights, the chaos of dorms, games on the television, hanging out with friends, a big cheesy bite, a carb overload, juicy pieces of pepperoni, sweetness of pineapple chunks, chilli flakes...
Pizza is one of those hugely popular comfort foods and great for hangovers too. But let's not talk about hangovers here, let's stick to pizzas. Excitingly there is a whole wide world of commercially available pizzas out there for us to explore. To start with and frankly the most familiar are all those chains producing and delivering pizzas under half an hour. The cheese may be processed, the wood fire may have been replaced by the electric ovens, the flour may be refined but we all are guilty of ordering these from time to time. When you open the flat box to reveal a steaming pizza you are least bothered about any of those shortcomings. All you want is to pick up a slice without burning your fingers. As the carb and the cheese melt in your mouth all the worries of the world recede and you are at peace.
Then there are those gourmet pizzas you get in speciality restaurants who use fresh ingredients and unusual toppings and bake in wood fire ovens taking time to produce a pizza. The smoke may choke you a bit and the wait may be a tad too long but it is all worth it for the pizzas are nice and fresh and generally follow the mantra less is more. These pizzas are eaten politely with knife and fork, savoured slowly with sips of wine while you listen to your date talk about quantum physics. While pretending as if you understand every obscure physics principle perfectly, you secretly wish you could run away with the platter of half eaten pizza and eat it in peace.
And then there is a third kind. Produced lovingly with healthy and fresh ingredients, sold by the square slice- pizza al taglio for the hungry luncher. It's on-the-go pizza, convenient to eat during a hurried lunch break, the slice gives you hundred percent satisfaction. Recently I was invited to sample the third category of pizzas by Pizza Rossa. Inspired by the street food vendors of Italy, this pizza company aims to feed the hungry in London's Square Mile. Now isn't that a noble occupation? The company is Italian of course and they take pizza making extremely seriously. As I was a witness. Attending a pizza making masterclass we were made to prepare the pizza dough from scratch. It was no easy task and my respect for Italian mamas increased manifold. Pizza Rossa makes their pizza dough in small batches and uses an artisan proving method. We were given our doughs to take back home along with some freshly made tomato sauce and mozzarella. Following all the instructions carefully I prepared my first pizza at home and I must say I was really proud of the result. I made a three cheese pizza and we finished it in no time.
If you are not a food blogger/chef, don't be bothered about the recipe, the proving and whatnot. Just visit these guys at Leadenhall Market near London Bridge and grab a slice or two. They have a potato and ham topping which I personally loved and ate quite a few slices of. But make sure to be there during the lunchtime or soon afterwards, these guys are not open for dinner. Or if you hungover breakfast may be an option too. Just a suggestion.