Tomato, Pizza in NYC

Bapopik at AOL.COM Bapopik at AOL.COM
Thu Jun 15 03:07:47 UTC 2006

FWIW, some more interesting food articles that I'm adding to my website
(under "pizza"). No "pizza" in 1902, but lots of it in 1908? In 1902, the only
pizza was in my neighborhood (52nd Street)?

18 February 1866, New York <i>Times</i>, pg. 6:
<i>Recollections of New-York Fifty Years Ago.</i>
NEW-YORK, Wednesday, Jan. 31, 1866.
You doubt whether in 1815 a tomato was sold or eaten in this city. I am a
living witness against the latter portion of your suggestion. I began to eat
them some years earlier than 1815, and used to long for their being ripe. But my
 father and I were the only two members of a large family that would touch
them.  I remember, about that time, hearing my mother say that the tomato was
grown as  a curiosity in her father's garden, (he had been long dead,) and that
visitors  would occasionally say that they understood that the French people
sometimes ate  them, but it was thought a strange taste.

15 December 1902, Fort Wayne (Indiana) <i>Morning  Journal-Gazette</i>, pg. 6:
<i>DISH, PIZZA</i>
(By Genie H. Rosenfeld, in "What to Eat.")
When Mascagni left the sunny skies of Italy and the home of Pizza
Neapolitana he knew nothing of the Musical Protective Union, he had also never  heard of
Pink Eye. He expected to paralyze Americana with "music as she is  played"
and he never dreamed but that in a country so progressive as America,  Pizza
Neapolitana was a familiar article.
Many of his compatriots did not wish to travel so far, but Mascagni said to
each of every grumbler:

"Figlio mio, thou shalt see theworld, and we will eat our Pizza Neapolitana
together upon the American strand."
All throughtthe length and breadth of New york City he sought his Pizza but
no one knew it. When he sought out some of his old friends who had emigrated
ahead of him, he found that they had all become naturalized for election
purposes, and to prevent any suspicion on the part of Supt. McCullagh had taken
to eating corn beef, hash and scrapple.
As a matter of fact his yearning wa so great that he did go to the edge of
the ditch and cry aloud, "Pizza Neapolitana," and though his compatriots came
swarming up the ladders in answer to his cry, and strained him to their clayey
 bosoms. It was only to echo in mournful refrain "New Yorka nou maka  pizza!"

Mascagni could have wept.

But his good angel had not deserted him. In his company was Eugenia
Mantelli, the famous contralto, and owner of the equally famous recipe for  pizza.

Finding the sad state of the Maestro's nerves she hied her up to
Fifty-second street were dwell her friend Katherine Evans von Kreaner, Marquise  de
Pateri. This lady, as behooved one of New York's first singing teachers, had  lived
long in Italy and knew the trick of using olive oil with the reckless
abandon of water without getting bilious afterwards.

To the studio repaired the prima donna contralto, and hastily sending out
for a gallon of oil and a bunch of garlic the two ladies proceeded to prepare
the lunch to which Mme. Mantelli had bidden the sorrowing Mascagni.

To be sure of correct atmosphere, madame ranged her pupils round the alls  of
her kitchen and kept them singing the sextette from "Lucia," and selections
from really truly Italian masterpieces until the pizza was cooked.

Then they rolled up their sleeves and went at it. The while the diva made
puff paste the vocal teacher browned a liberal supply of onions in olive oil,
then she stewed truffles in white wine and took lentils which she had already
prepared, and warmed them in the broth from the truffles. These three
ingredients were then stirred together with some juice of tomato, pepper, salt  and a
taste of garlic, and as soon as this was ready a quart of cream was added  to
thicken the mixture.

By this time, Mme. Mantelli had the paste half baked in a large shallow  pan,
and into this mixture it was poured, a second crust being put on top.

While this was baking, the two ladies prepared some rizetti as a side  dish.

To make this they took rice and boiled it till it was hard. Italians don't
eat the mush we do; they cook their rice in boiling water and in fifteen
minutes  take it out and put it in the front of the fire to dry; in this way the
grain is  separate and frim.

After the rice was cooked for the rizetti they added onions fried in olive
oil, tomatoes stewed, green peas and fine slices of citron. This was seasoned
well with herbs, and as soon as it was well mixed it was put on a platter, a
hole scraped in the center and into this was poured a thick sauce made of
cream  and the liquor of stewed celery.

Hardly was the meal ready when the hungry composer arrived, and his joy  over
his Pizza Neapolitana, of the flaky crust and the truffles, and the garlic,
was pathetic. It was a dish for the gods, he averred, and when washed down
with  some fine old Chianti the composer was so cheered that he promised to
exclude  Fifty-second street from the Anathema Marantha he meant to pronounce on
12 March 1908, Kansas City <i>Star</i>, pg. 11:
<i>Made in Mulberry Street After Recipes</i>
<i>Found in Pompeii Excavation.</i>
>From What-to-Eat for March.

Scattered through Mott and Mulberry street and other portions of the  Italian
colony where Neapolitans congregate in New York, are occasional little  shops
with the words "Pizze Cavuie" on the windows. The words mean simply "hot
cakes" in the Neapolitan dialect. A visit to one of these reveals a window piled
so high with great round Italian cheeses that the interior is invisible.
Entering, one sees a long table covered with brown oil-cloth and bounded by long
black benches. One side of the room is lined with little private supper
rooms,  about the size of theater boxes, partitioned off with black wood. Each is
filled  with a party of men, peacefully dining on pizze. A bright tin bucket of
beer is  in the center of the table, and  passes from lip to lip without the
formality of glasses. The shop does not sell beer. When a man gives his order
he  takes a bucket from a stack provided for the purpose, and goes to a
neighboring  line for his beer. By the time he gets back his order is ready, for
the pizze  cook quickly.

In behind, two Neapolitan bakers, clothed in white, are baking pizze from
morning till night, and almost from night till morning. Quantities of dough are
kept prepared, made in fat rolls. The baker takes a roll, and with a few deft
 slaps flattens it as flat as a pancake, but somewhat thicker and a little
larger  than an ordinary pie. Then he dabs bits of lard on its surface. Over
this he  sprinkles grated cheese, from a dish which stands always full beside
him. Then  he pours on cooked tomato, and on top throws a handful of aregata, the
spicy  aromatic herb which is such a favorite Italian seasoning. The cheese
used is the  Roman, so much employed for culinary purposes. The whole operation
has not taken  him more than a minute. Then he slaps it on a bread, flat,
long-handled paddle,  and thrusts it into the furnace oven. In two minutes it is

It comes to the table on a big, flat pewter plate. Ordinarily individual
plates are not furnished or required, for every true Neapolitan takes his piece
of pizze, folds it over so that the crust is outside, and eats it from the
hand.  The pastry seems to be a cross between bread dough and pie crust, and is
not  lacking in suggestions that when cold it might be somewhat heavily upon an
 unaccustomed interior. But as a whole the confection is enticing, by reason
of  its delectable hotness and crispness ,and the cunning blend of spicy
flavors for  which it is renowned. It is probably indigestible, but certainly not
more so  than Welsh rarebit.

The American Dialect Society -

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