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Unraveling the Royal mystique behind the Pizza Margherita

Every corner of the globe has savored the delight of pizza. Born from the humble beginnings of Italy’s flatbread, tomatoes, and cheese, it was the Italian immigrants who carried this culinary gift to America in the early 20th century. The result? An all-American obsession with this Italian delicacy.

However, amidst the myriad of pizza types, one stands with a regal touch. Rewind to 1889, Naples. The city buzzed with excitement as Queen Margherita and her consort wandered its vibrant streets. Lured by an irresistible scent, they stumbled upon a quaint pizzeria.

Captivated, they summoned Raffaele Esposito, the pizzeria’s chef, to the majestic Capodimonte Palace. Eager to impress, Esposito whipped up three distinct pizzas. Yet, one was a showstopper – mirroring Italy’s flag with red tomatoes, white mozzarella, and verdant basil. Queen Margherita’s palate was conquered. In her honor, this tri-colored delight was christened “Pizza Margherita”.

Such an enchanting tale has charmed tourists, food enthusiasts, and historians. It paints a vivid picture: a queen, enchanted by a commoner’s dish, and a pizza embodying nationalistic fervor.

While parts of the tale are rooted in reality, like Esposito owning the aptly named “The Queen of Italy Pizzeria”, certain historical nuances add depth. The late 19th-century saw Italy in turmoil. Naples, freshly freed from its Bourbon ties, was still grappling with the new Kingdom of Italy’s demands. King Umberto I and Queen Margherita, aiming to bridge the divide, saw food as a powerful emblem. Hence, a pizza, drenched in the nation’s hues and graced by a queen’s preference, was more than a mere dish.

Cooking up a myth

But, was this just a culinary coup by the monarchy? Popular narratives suggest so. Yet, recent diggings hint otherwise. Evidences like an 1853 essay describing a similar pizza and discrepancies in the ‘royal letter’ to Esposito, challenge the popular belief.

It seems the plot thickens with Raffaele Esposito Brandi. A mismatched surname hints at the possibility of forgery. Could it be the work of the Brandi siblings, the later proprietors of the pizzeria? They might have woven this tale to boost their trade. After all, narratives of royals relishing street food were aplenty, even predating the alleged Margherita episode.

Today, the pizzeria stands tall as “Pizzeria Brandi”, its walls adorned with a commemorative plaque from 1989. The real tale behind Pizza Margherita might remain shrouded, but its allure is undeniable.

And, if this piece has stirred your appetite for Neapolitan wonders, book a Naples street food tour here and dive deep into its culinary heart.

Unraveling Lasagne: a journey through Italy’s time-honored classic

Peeling back the layers of lasagne, it’s not just about the ingredients or method, but the people savoring it. Lasagne stands as a testament to the ever-changing palette of humanity. Tracing its roots back to Ancient Greece, the laganon – believed to be the original pasta made from flat strips of dough – set the foundation. From there, the Romans crafted their own version, the lagane, which paved the way for today’s lasagne patina. Despite its vague origins involving a sow’s belly and fish, its journey worldwide saw countless transformations.

Today, the Accademia Italiana della Cucina, guardians of Italy’s culinary treasures, celebrates lasagne as a hallmark of Bolognese fare: spinach egg pasta sheets paired with hearty ragu and creamy bechamel. But lasagne’s charm lies in its adaptability. This is underlined by entire cookbooks, like “Lasagna, A Baked Pasta Cookbook” by Anna Hezel and The Editors of Taste, which not only provide myriad versions but also highlight the distinction between ‘lasagna’ (a single pasta sheet) and ‘lasagne’ (the dish layered with many).

Even within its hometown, Emilia-Romagna, you’ll find variations in the beloved Bologna ragu. The nuances in the mix of meats, the choice of fats, and the perfect soffritto of onion, celery, and carrot provide a unique taste. The ragu’s slow simmering – no less than two hours – combined with subtle hints of nutmeg in the bechamel and a lavish sprinkle of Parmigiano-Reggiano, make it unique.

However, not all lasagne dishes are crafted with such devotion. Regrettably, some interpretations, especially in the UK, have strayed far from its authentic taste and texture. Missteps like overcooked pasta and diluted ragu are common, but nothing tops the unusual experiments like chicken tikka lasagne or even a lasagne sandwich.

Yet, when done right, lasagne stands tall with layers perfectly intact, resembling the delicate finesse of a mille-feuille. Its silken texture and heartwarming flavors make it the ultimate comfort dish. It’s a testament to its status that during the 2020 lockdown, lasagne sheets became essential purchases for many.

The art of making lasagne, however, is a labor of love. From homemade pasta sheets to the patience of slow-cooking sauces, it’s a craft. Chef legends like Massimo Bottura pay homage to this art, celebrating elements like the cherished crispy edges in dishes such as “The Crunchy Part of the Lasagne.”

Beyond Bologna, other regions in Italy have added their unique twist, from truffle-infused versions in Le Marche to the musical crunch of Sardinia’s pane carasau version. Lasagne’s versatility embraces seasonal and vegetarian spins, like the pesto-based lasagne Genovese or versions featuring roasted squash and lentils.

Egg-free lasagne sheets further showcase its adaptability. Made primarily in southern Italy, these sheets stand strong, adding to the dish’s iconic shape. And while making them from scratch, possibly infused with greens like nettles, can be a delight, store-bought versions have their place in our busy lives.

Discover the heart of Italian flavors!

Embark on an unforgettable journey through the bustling streets of Naples. Savor authentic street foods, meet local vendors, and soak in the rich history of this vibrant city. Don’t just read about Italy’s culinary wonders – taste them for yourself! Ready for a mouthwatering adventure?

Dive into Naples: A Street Food Odyssey. Secure your spot now and experience the tastes of Naples like never before!

In essence, lasagne is a dish that has woven its story through time and regions. It’s more than just food – a narrative of evolution, love, and tradition. So, here’s to lasagne – may we continue to relish its many forms and flavors. Buon appetito!

The Veiled Christ in Naples: history and curiosity

The Veiled Christ of Naples is one of the most renowned sculptures in the world. The statue, which depicts Jesus shrouded in a long veil, was created by the Neapolitan sculptor Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753. Since then, it has become a symbol of faith, devotion, and hope to many who visit the church of Sansevero Chapel Museum in Naples, Italy.

The history of the Veiled Christ begins with the noble family of Sansevero, and their patronage of the arts from the 16th century to the present day. The first patron was Raimondo di Sangro, Prince of Sansevero, who commissioned many works in his lifetime, including the Veiled Christ. The statue was made with marble dust and glue and took two years to complete. Nevertheless, its sheer beauty and grace are unrivaled by any other work of art.

Legend says that after Raimondo’s death, a mysterious figure appeared at Sansevero Chapel and placed a veil over the sculpture. Since then, it has been known as the Veiled Christ or Cristo Velato. This story is said to have inspired both religious believers and non-believers alike, who have made pilgrimages to Naples to see this extraordinary piece of art.

The Veiled Christ is open daily from 9am-7pm with extended hours during summer months (May-September). There is no admission fee, but donations are welcomed to help maintain these historical monuments. 

Visitors should also be aware that there is a strict dress code when visiting this sacred place – shorts and sleeveless shirts are not allowed inside the chapel. Additionally, visitors should be respectful and maintain a calm voice out of respect for those praying or meditating in front of the statue. 

Apart from its artistic beauty, some interesting facts about this sculpture fascinate visitors worldwide – such as its incredible weight (almost three tons) or its great detail (made without using any tools). 

The Veiled Christ continues to draw visitors from around the world looking for a spiritual experience or simply admiring its beauty; it’s definitely worth a visit if you’re ever in Naples!

Who carved the Veiled Christ?

The Veiled Christ is a marble sculpture created by the Italian artist Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753. It is a life-size statue of Jesus Christ in his burial shroud. The figure is said to be so realistic that it appears like the veil is draped over an actual body.

The work was commissioned by the Spanish Viceroy of Naples, Fernando Ruiz de Castro, for the chapel of Sansevero in Naples. It has become one of the most renowned sculptures from the Neapolitan Baroque period. It remains on display in the chapel today. 

Giuseppe Sanmartino was born into a family of stonemasons and sculptors in 1720. He trained under some of the most influential sculptors in Italy, such as Francesco Solimena and Ferdinando Fuga. In addition to creating other sculptures, he also worked on restoration projects throughout his lifetime. 

Sanmartino’s Veiled Christ is widely considered to be his masterpiece. He used a single block of Carrara marble to create this lifelike figure covered with a seamless veil that gives the impression that it was draped over an actual body. The sculpture was completed after three years of hard work and is still considered one of the most masterful examples of marble sculpture from the eighteenth century. 

The Veiled Christ has been praised for its realism and attention to detail. It is believed that Sanmartino used a live model for reference during the creation process, which may explain why this piece appears so lifelike even today. 

Many art historians have studied Sanmartino’s work. They have praised his ability to capture emotion and realism through his sculptures. His Veiled Christ continues to captivate viewers worldwide, making it one of his most iconic works and an example of Neapolitan Baroque art at its finest.

What is the Veiled Christ made of?

The Veiled Christ is a marble sculpture created by Italian sculptor Giuseppe Sanmartino in 1753. It is widely regarded as one of the most beautiful and perfect sculptures. The piece is made of a single block of Carrara marble quarried in Tuscany, Italy.

The figure of Christ is shrouded in a white veil that covers his entire body except for his face. His facial features are highly expressive and convey an intense emotion of suffering. The blanket has been carefully draped to create an impression of movement and grace characteristic of the Rococo period in which it was made.

The sculpture stands almost five feet tall and weighs approximately 1,700 pounds. Its body is slightly curved, with the arms outstretched and the head tilted somewhat towards heaven. The drapery adds to the sense of movement and grace by creating a sweeping curve around the figure’s body and cascading down to its feet.

The Veiled Christ is a masterpiece not only for its technical virtuosity but also for its emotional power. Its beauty lies in its subtlety and delicate play between light and shadow on the marble surface. Sanmartino’s skillful use of light, shade, and texture creates an illusion of depth and gives life to what would otherwise be merely a block of stone.