In Naples, tracing the history of pizza inevitably involves the stories of families who have inhabited the city’s historic center and suburbs for generations, and the countless metaphors and sayings that link the population to its most renowned product. These recall the proliferation of pizzaioli (pizza makers) in nineteenth-century Naples, then capital of the Kingdom of the Two Sicilies, who are still renowned today for their skills passed from generation to generation.
Ciro Salvo, a third-generation pizzaiolo from Portici village at the foot of Mount Vesuvius just outside Naples, will join a group of 20 pizza makers in the Pizza Piazza at Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre this month. Inaugurated with great success at Cheese 2011, the initiative is based on an alliance between pizzerias and Slow Food Presidia, inspired by the well-established Alliance Between Italian Chefs and Slow Food Presidia. It is organized in cooperation with Verace Pizza Napoletana Association and Molino Quaglia’s Università della Pizza, under the direction of Emanuele De Vittoris.
A world of pizza awaits us. From Sicily to the Aosta Valley and even the Far East – home of the winner of the Olympics of Verace Pizza Napoletana (true Neapolitan pizza) – the Pizza Piazza will tell the stories of recipes, but most of all people, to build a new piece of the Terra Madre network.
Here Ciro talks to us about how his passion for his job helps him produce some of the best pizzas…
Ciro, you come from a family of pizzaioli: what are the most important lessons they have passed on to you?
My family has taught me ancient techniques such as how to make the perfect dough, but I have also learned from them to give this job the respect it deserves. One of the secrets to keep on doing better and better in this sector is to live your professional life like a love story, where passion is always alive and kicking.
Long working hours and a low-cost product: does this job lack attractiveness for younger people?
Sacrifice and commitment may seem unattractive to young generations. In order to survive, a pizzeria needs to be dealing with large quantities. Offering an excellent product at a fair price can be an economically gratifying, because quantity is only possible if there is quality. There is no point considering sacrificing quality when it comes to pizza, as its not a particularly large cost increase.
Pizza has always been a food of the people, however many of your pizzas use high quality products such as Slow Food Presidia. What do you see for the future of pizzaioli: popular tradition or high-end cuisine?
What was once popular tradition is now an example of excellence. Pizza is evolving. If the food of the people intersects with other traditional products, this means that we are growing, improving and making history.
What do you expect from Salone del Gusto and Terra Madre 2012?
I expect professional growth and a better awareness of what Presidia can offer to improve and develop the world of pizza.
True Neapolitan pizza: describe it with three adjectives.
Soft, fluffy, easy to digest.