GLG Sample Issue: Naturally “cheeseless” pizza

By Glauce Ferrari — July 21, 2012

Outside Italy pizza is usually related to cheese. It’s hard for most of the people around the world to imagine eating vegan when the subject is this amazing Italian food. But because pizza was exported everywhere it also got different ways to be done here and there and it’s hard to say you had an original Italian one unless you go to the country of pizza and pasta.

In the US you’ll find the Chicago-style pizza, which is a deep-dish pizza while in New York you’ll try a large, wide, thin and foldable shape. This one is closer to the Italian one. In Brazil – and in some other countries too – you’ll have to ask the ingredients of the dough because sometimes it has milk (or whey powder) or even eggs. When someone decides to adopt a plant-based diet or a vegan lifestyle, he will have to be ready to ask questions when eating out and this will include pizzerias. More than asking for the ingredients you will see yourself choosing one pizza and asking for it “with no cheese, please” and getting the weirdest looks from the waitresses or even hearing thins like “Are you sure?” or “Sorry, we can’t make pizza without cheese”.

And if you’re not Italian you’ll spend your life going through menus around the world and getting used to ask all these questions, even when you go to Italy. Liz Wyman, 40, from Trent England, had her first “cheeseless” pizza in Florence a few years ago. She found in Florence an option with no cheese, porcini pizza and ordered it. But until today she had no idea she could just ask for a “marinara” pizza and get a naturally cheese free pizza.

Emma Attwell, 26, from Luton, England, went through a similar experience in the beautiful island of Sardinia. She went to a lot of family owned business and learned how to order pizza in Italian in the end, but she would ask for a vegetarian pizza with no cheese “and extra veg”.

Pizza marinara is one of the first made pizzas in Naples – where pizza comes from – and with the “margherita” (with cheese) option is one of the most popular in Italy. It’s made with tomato sauce, garlic, oregano and olive oil. Yes, just that. And yes, no cheese. The name “marinara” could make some people think it has fish on it because “marinai” means “sailors” but the name comes from the fact that its ingredients could be easily preserved in long trips by sailors. The fact is that you’ll find marinara pizza with anchovies outside Italy, as was the case of Italian Martina Trovato, 23: “Even when I found marinara in the UK, it was always with anchovies, so I had to always order a vegetarian pizza with no cheese.” She agrees that most of the people outside Italy don’t know what is a marinara pizza. “I found it several times with anchovies, pineapple and even aniseed!”, says Martina.

But if you think this simple – and naturally vegan – pizza sounds boring, like Emma thought when in Italy, you can order a marinara with whatever you want and it’s on the restaurant’s menu (olives, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, etc).

When eating out in Italy you’ll face staff in restaurants who doesn’t speak English – or speaks just a few words. So be ready to order a marinara pizza with your favorite ingredients knowing how to say some words in Italian:

cheese: formaggio

olives: olive

artichokes: carciofi

sun dried tomatoes: pomodori secchi

mushrooms: funghi

pepper: peperone

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