Poking the bear… The now classic expression used to indicate someone is doing something specifically designed to stir up… Controversy. An Italian pizza maestro has added a Pineapple Pizza to his menu – to ‘mixed’ reviews…
Renegade Neapolitan pizzaiolo Gino Sorbillo: Poking the Pizza Establishment bear…
“Sadly people follow the crowd and condition themselves according to other people’s views, or what they hear,” he observed.
“I’ve noticed in the last few years that lots of people were condemning ingredients or ways of preparing food purely because in the past most people didn’t know them, so I wanted to put these disputed ingredients – that are treated like they’re poison – onto a Neapolitan pizza, making them tasty.”
The ‘Margherita con Ananas’ – literally the ‘Margherita with Pineapple’ – is a Pizza Bianco. That is, there’s no Tomato sauce. But it does feature three special cheeses, two goat’s milk varieties and one made from buffalo milk. Four, if you count the Provolone he puts directly on the pineapple.
And he doesn’t just open a can of Dole Chunks and scatter them on the pie. Sorbilla bakes the pineapple in his classic high-temperature wood-fired pizza oven, then lets it cool before dressing it with a little cheese, extra virgin olive oil, and fresh basil. And then adding it to the pie.
“Before I launched [the Margherita con Ananas] on social media, I put it on the menu without saying anything for a couple of weeks, and lots of people ordered it, even Neapolitans,” Sorbilla said.
But once his social media post hit the Net, opinion quickly became as heated as his pie – and bitterly divided. The Margherita con Ananas sparked a flood of online insults and a lot of discussion – pro and con.
“Italy is split in half about it. And not just Italy. There’s a load of arguments that have opened up about it. I think people in general are not curious. They are mistrustful of anything different.”
Critics on his side
Noted Italian food writer Barbara Politi ‘rushed straight to Naples to try it’. Her reaction was unequivocally positive.
“It’s good, fresh, I’m in favor of it,” she said. “Did you know that pineapple has been part of Europe’s food culture since Christopher Columbus tasted it in Guadeloupe in 1493 and brought it back?
So there, nay-sayers!
Sorbillo is more than just a celeb pizza maker. You may recognise the name. He’s headquartered in Naples – ‘the birthplace of Pizza as we know it’. But he’s also opened 21 high-end pizzerias around the world including locations in Miami and Tokyo, and on the luxe Mediterranean resort island of Ibiza.
I have a sneaking suspicion that his name for the controversial pie was chosen not only as an homage to the classic, seminal Pizza Margherita, but as a thinly veiled attempt to create a new ‘classic’. Perhaps signalling a new beginning – ‘Version 2.0’ – for the entire pizza concept?
On a personal level, I have to say I admire Sorbillo and his ‘poke the bear’ attitude. “When the pineapple pizza came out, someone wrote, ‘Now see if you can do a ketchup one’, so I did it,” he says. “And another row started.”
You go, bambino!
To quote Will Rogers…
Celebrated early-20th Century raconteur Will Rogers is often credited with saying, “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there.” These days we say, “If you’re not moving forward, you’re falling behind.”
Sorbillo is clearly moving forward on the Majestic, Historic Pizza track. Regardless of criticism or insults. Too bad more folks – especially in the social media world – seem determined to get run over…
~ Maggie J.