Anyone who’s set foot in Italy knows there are unwritten rules that one must abide by – and the most important of all revolve around food. Cappuccino after 11 a.m.? Only for tourists. Spaghetti bolognese? A horrifying thought. Pineapple on your pizza? Heresy – at least, it was until now.
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Doing it in his headquarters in the historic centre of Naples with its 3,000 years of history – Sorbillo has 21 outlets worldwide, including in Miami, Tokyo, and Ibiza – was also making an important point, he said.
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“It makes it tasty,” he said. Tasty or not, pineapple on pizza is anathema to most Italians, and his pizza – which he launched on social media this week – hasn’t gone down well with many. Sorbillo said it has started an “uproar” with insults on social media, and his pizza is even being discussed on national TV. But he says that those curious enough to try it have been favourable.
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“Before I launched it 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,” he said. “But 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.”
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Barbara Politi, a food journalist who rushed straight to Naples to try it, was positive. “It’s good, fresh; I’m in favour 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? “When Sorbillo launched it, I was curious and looked into how long pineapple had been used in Europe, and I found that it has been part of European [food] culture for a long time. So, in reality, we’re talking about a question of mentality and taste habits. “I liked it. It’s a bit like sushi – at the start, you might not love it, but then it becomes a
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For Sorbillo, pineapple on pizza is no different from the more adventurous toppings Pizzaioli has been working with in recent years. “In the last few years, people have been using ingredients that five or six years ago were never used. Now we use speck from Alto Adige, mortadella, which wasn’t used ten years ago, chopped pistachios, powdered olives, mozzarella foam, and even jams. Why shouldn’t we rediscover pineapple? Pizza has been living a new life for five or six years.”
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However, he draws the line at starting with a tomato base. “That’s another fruit – with two fruits, which both have acidity, it wouldn’t be a good product,” he said. “Instead, I put three smoked cheeses on, and it changes the pizza, becomes a different taste.”
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