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Poetry of Pizza at Da Michele
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For any pizza lover, a trip to L’Antica Pizzeria Da Michele in Naples, Italy, has to be considered one of the ultimate pizza pilgrimages. There’s little choice there — no extra toppings, just three types of Neapolitan-style pizza: the Marinara (sauce and crust), the Margherita (sauce, cheese, basil, and crust), or the Margherita with extra cheese. Just €5 gets you a pizza and a bottle of Orangina within four minutes. Why is it so good? Without adding to the breathless account in Elizabeth Gilbert’s Eat, Pray, Love, it’s not hyperbolic to declare that this will most likely be the best and most pure pizza you will ever eat. At Da Michele it’s about simplicity, quality, and tradition.
The Condurro family has been making fantastic pizza in Naples since 1870. The story goes that Michele Condurro perfected the family art by learning the secrets of dough preparation, kneading, and cooking from the pizza masters in Torre Annunziata, a suburb of Naples. In 1906, Michele opened his first pizzeria, which he was forced to move in 1930 to Via Cesare Sersale when the Ascalesi Hospital was under construction. His instructions and philosophy for making true Neapolitan pizza have been passed down for five generations. Each component is of the highest quality and these components interact in a sublime equation, their ratios perfect: charred to non-charred crust, crust to sauce, crust to cheese, and sauce to cheese — the Platonic ideal in pizza form.
Considering Da Michele’s pizzas are virtually edible poems themselves, it’s not surprising that poets were inspired to write about them. Two signs on the wall add to the simple décor (white walls and a religious statue overlooking the pizzaiolos).
They feature poems dedicated to the pizzeria’s two types of pizza: "'A Margarita (To the Margherita)" by Gennaro Esposito (left), and "'A Marinara (To the Marinara)" by S. Galante (right). Esposito (1920-2004) was a popular poet who wrote in the Neapolitan dialect about social issues and his memories of "the old Naples." Galante is harder to find information about, but both poets were said to have been frequent patrons of the pizzeria.
Included below are the poems and their approximate translations:
|‘A Margarita||To the Margherita|
|'A quando sta ‘o "benessere"||When everything goes "well"|
|'A gente penza a spennere||People can think only of spending|
|E mò pure ‘o chiù povero||And even the poorest man|
|‘O siente é cumannà;||Feels the right to give orders;|
|Voglio una pizza a vongole||"I want a pizza with clams|
|Chiena é funghette e cozzeche||With mushrooms and mussels|
|Con gamberetti e ostriche||With shrimps and oysters|
|D‘ó mare ‘e sta città.||All from the sea of this city.|
|Al centro poi ce voglio||At the center I want|
|‘N’uovo datto alla cocca||An egg à la coq|
|E co liguore stok||With Stok Liquor|
|L’avita annaffià.||Sprinkled about."|
|Quando sentenno st’ordine||When we heard this order|
|Ce venne cca’na stizza||We were taken aback|
|Penzanno ma sti pizze,||And we thought, "These pizzas,|
|Songo papocchie o che.||Are they disgusting, or what!?"|
|Ca se rispetta á regola||Here you have to respect the rule|
|Facenno á vera pizza,||And make the real thing,|
|Chella ch‘è nata a Napule||The pizza born in Naples|
|Quase cient’anne fa.||Almost 100 years ago.|
|Chesta ricetta antica||This ancient recipe|
|Si chiamma MARGARITA||It’s called MARGHERITA|
|Ca quanno è fatta arte||And when it’s done right|
|Po ghì nant‘á nu re.||You can present it to a king.|
|Perciò nun e cercate||So don’t go looking|
|Sti pizze complicate||For any complicated pizzas|
|Ca fanno male á sacca,||Which will only hurt your wallet|
|E ó stommaco patì.||And your stomach too.|
|Poesia di G. ESPOSITO||A poem of G. ESPOSITO|
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