Being selected to cook your own meal at a restaurant does not sound like fun, unless you are in Italy and the chef wants to show you his secrets. On a cruise excursion in Naples I was one of the lucky folks that got to learn not only how the Italians make pizza. I also observed why the health benefits of real Italian food may far surpass the American diet. In other words, secrets of why Americans get fat on pizza and Italians don’t.
This excursion started by demonstrating one way the Italians keep their figures a bit more fit than Americans. We walked for what seemed like forever to get to the restaurant. In America you drive to the pizza parlor and park as close as possible. Naples is a bustling city where you have to walk the narrow streets and get lots of exercise. Some of the crowded alleys would not allow an oversized stomach to squeeze through. Maybe that is a planned fitness program.
The chef had us toss the dough about to tone up our arms. When we got to the secret ingredient part he would not reveal what was in the secret sauce. However, all the ingredients were fresh including the tomatoes, basil, and other spices. No canned or boxed up stuff. I am sure the lack of preservatives and artificial ingredients not only created a better tasting pizza pie but a healthier one.
Preparing the pizza was just too simple. Lay the dough on the wooden table. Pour some homemade pressed olive oil on it. Spread a thin layer of fresh sauce, and then sprinkle some fresh shredded cheese on top. Last but most important put fresh basil leaves on top. The fire guy then scooped this up with a super shovel and put it in the hottest brick oven you could find anywhere. Real firewood flames, real hot heat.
I asked where the meat toppings were and you would have thought I was asking for a beer in the Baptist church. In America we expect many meat toppings. In Italy having just one or maybe two would be the maximum. Maybe that is another secret to the slimmer Italian waistlines. But wait! That pizza was really great. Perhaps all the fatty meats are not needed after all. Fresh, healthy ingredients make your tongue smile.
When you travel and have fun that is great. If you gain some knowledge while traveling and apply it for a better life that is magnificent. I don’t have a fire powered brick oven at home. Yet, turning up the oven temperature to 425 degrees and making my own pizza with fresh, natural ingredients and no fatty meats gives our kitchen an authentic Italian feeling. I even try to walk a lot before cooking like a healthy Italian would.