There is a lot of truth in the old cliche that ‘food brings people together’. Without food being involved, it is likely that I would never see half of my friends, nor would I have met half of the new ones I have made in London. Any food usually works, but I think it is the most familiar and comforting ones that do the ‘bringing together’ the best. My proof is in the pizza. I can think of nothing else that would bring four food-loving, photograph-taking, blog-writing ladies together more enthusiastically or religiously than the simple pleasure of a good pizza. Meeting for pizza has become such a ritual, we turned it into a club and happily hold our meetings anywhere a decent slice is served.
Our latest meeting took us all a little out of our ways (these are the extreme lengths we go to for Pizza Club) to a cosy corner of Fulham which has been transformed into a slice of the Italian south. Meridionale, which literally translates to mean ‘from the South’, aims to showcase the best of the Southern regions such as Naples, Sicily, Calabria and Sardinia so we were excited to discover some new dishes or curious tweaks to well-know favourites. But first, we had to pop the prosecco to adjourn the meeting… we don’t have too many rules at Pizza Club however that is definitely one of them!
It took me almost two weeks into the new year before I had my first slice of pizza; a lot longer than I had expected if I’m being honest. It was one of those DIY jobs with a Sainsbury’s pre-made base (we gasp, but in my defence I was in a state of hanger) and topped with our favourites like ham, chorizo, mozzarella, fresh tomatoes and basil, and pineapple for me. They were good, nothing at all wrong with them but the pizzas you cook in your home oven with an upper temperature of 250ish degrees will never ever compare to one cooked in a wood fired oven which can get as hot as 400ish degrees within minutes. It did satisfy my pizza cravings then and there, but the next meeting of Pizza Club couldn’t come soon enough!
The girls and I got together early in February at Firebrand Pizza, a recent addition to the Marylebone neighbourhood and convened the first Pizza Club of the year with a glass of prosecco – it feels customary now! If you’ve kept tabs on our first and second meetings, then you know that cheese is also a must; the more varieties, the better. On this night we had about five… the first was a buffalo mozzarella with parma ham, pear and rocket which was such a light and fresh dish, it was something you’d imagine consuming al fresco with a glass of wine in hand! London in February is not al fresco weather but at least the wine situation was easy to arrange…
What’s so special about pizza? It’s nothing but a bit of dough topped with a handful of ingredients, sometimes even less, then baked in the oven. That’s it. No tricky cooking techniques, no fancy kitchen gadgets… when done right, a good pizza is oh so delicious… and satisfying… and addictive. Its simplicity makes it accessible; it’s food for the people – why else would it be so well known and well loved all over the world?
Italy does them the traditional way, New York has the huge $1 slices, Copenhagen like theirs organic, and there’s even no shortage of hole in the wall pizza vendors in Havana; pizza is everywhere. Here in London, pizza seems to be enjoying a moment in the limelight and as a result there are decent pizza restaurants popping up in every nook and cranny of the city. No complaints from this end because I bloody love pizza.