Storie culinarie: Piadipizza ** Culinary stories: Piadipizza

Piadina di pizza farcita

Abitudini alimentari nel mondo

Il famoso detto che dice “Il mondo è bello perché è vario”, è proprio vero, soprattutto quando si parla di cibo.

Le diverse culture, con le proprie tradizioni e i loro segreti culinari, rendono l’arte di mangiare un’avventura tra i sapori, i profumi e i colori. Non si può certamente generalizzare quando si fa il confronto tra alimentazione occidentale e quella orientale.

Possiamo però soffermarci sulle varie differenze.

Pensiamo ai formaggi francesi, alle spezie spagnole e all’accostamento della carne al pesce nella paella, alle zuppe di carne del nord Europa, e alla golosa alimentazione statunitense, forse anche un po’ troppo ricca di grassi, sodio e zuccheri.
Oggigiorno, nei paesi occidentali, si tende a consumare grassi animali, dolci, farinacei, carne rossa, frutta, verdura, olio extra vergine di oliva, latte e derivati.

In oriente, in Cina e Giappone per esempio, si consuma molto pesce, tanto riso, non si usa il latte vaccino, si fa molto uso della soia e dei suoi derivati (tofu), e varie verdure bollite, cotte al vapore o saltate in padella. La loro cucina, con piatti leggeri, a volte anche veloci, è semplice e raffinata, con l’alternanza di cibi freddi e caldi per l’armonia dell’equilibrio dello yin e dello yang.

La cucina indiana, invece, è ricca di colori e spezie, e si basa sui prodotti della terra come legumi, verdure e cereali, arricchiti da salse che esaltano i sapori. Nel nord del paese la cucina fa uso di carne ed è leggermente speziata, mentre al sud la cucina è prevalentemente vegetariana e riccamente speziata.

La cucina africana è composta da alimenti semplici, del posto, che vengono sapientemente conditi. La grandissima estensione del continente fa sì che la cucina sia variegata perché influenzata da culture diverse.

C’è una prevalenza di cultura araba nella zona del nord e del Sahel, della cultura indiana nella parte centro-occidentale, e delle culture europee nella parte colonizzata del sud. Hanno, comunque, in comune l’usanza del piatto unico a base di farinacei accompagnati da carne e verdura.

Partiamo da questo continente per vedere come sono diverse anche le abitudini oggi, e come lo erano in passato.

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Eating habits in the world

There’s a saying that says that the world is beautiful because it is varied, and it’s so true, especially when we talk about food.  The different cultures, traditions and culinary secrets make the art of eating an adventure among flavours, aromas and colours.  Of course, one can’t generalize when comparing the food differences between the East and the West.  We can, however, take a look at some of these differences.  Let’s take into account the French cheeses, the Spanish spices and how meat and fish are combined in the paella, the meat soups of Northern Europe, the tasty American foods, maybe at times a bit too rich in fats, sodium and sugar.

Nowadays, in the western world we tend to consume more animal fats, sweets, starches, red meat, fruit, vegetables, extra virgin olive oil, milk and dairy products.  In the eastern countries, for example China and Japan, they eat more fish, rice, they don’t make much use of milk, they use a lot of soy (tofu), and various vegetables that are boiled, steamed or stir fried.  Their cuisine made of light dishes, at times also quite quick, is simple yet refined, with hot and cold foods that harmonize the equilibrium of yin and yang.

The Indian cuisine, instead, is rich in colours and spices, and is based on products of their land such as legumes, vegetables and grains, enriched with sauces that enhance their natural flavours.  In the northern part of the country, slightly spiced meat is used, while in the south there is mainly a vegetarian cuisine that is richly spiced.

The African cuisine is made up mainly of simple foods, of the area, that are wisely seasoned.  Due to the vastness of the country, the cuisine is quite varied thanks to the influence of different cultures.  There is a prevalence of Arabic culture in the North and in the Sahel area, of Indian culture in the central-western area, and of the European cultures that colonized it in the South.  However, they all have in common the custom of eating a main meal made of a starch with meat and vegetables.

Let’s begin with this continent to see how different the eating habits are, and were in the past.  Many people in Africa, generally eat from one communal dish, sitting barefoot on the ground, with the women separated from the men.  The food is collected with the right hand (the left hand is considered impure) between the thumb, index and middle fingers, in small quantities. It is advisable to eat slowly and always leave a bit of food in the plate, a sign of respect towards the host.  At the beginning and end of every meal, a bowl of water is brought to the eating area so everyone can wash their hands.

This custom began many centuries ago, when the ancient Greeks used to pick up their food, which was already cut, with their hands and bring it to their mouths.  They, too, used to wash their hands in scented water between each course.

During the imperial roman era, the first utensils arrived.  These resembled our modern spoons:  the “ligula”, a small paddle-shaped spoon with a straight or curved handle, and the “cochlear”, from Latin “cochlea” meaning shell, a round paddle-shaped spoon with a straight pointed handle.  These objects were costly and available only to few people, until the use of silver started which was workable and less expensive.  That is when the spoon became a utensil used by the wealthy middle class, and with time its shape changed and became oval

According to archaeological findings, in the late Middle Ages a utensil was used to pick up food, that resembles our forks.  In fact, in Italian literature, after the year 1000, references are made to a fork being used by the middle class and by merchants, especially in the areas of Venice, Pisa and Florence. When pasta was introduced in the Italian meals, a slippery food eaten hot, it became obvious that a utensil, such as the fork, was undoubtedly needed.

The ancient civilizations used shells and clay as drinking vessels, then horns and antlers appeared, especially among the Egyptian and Italic populations.  The Phoenicians, however, spread the use of glass and commercialized these transparent containers.  During the Pompeian era, the ancient Romans perfected the shape of these vessels and created precious glasses, while for everyday use they continued to use wood, terracotta and metal.  In the 1500s, Venice became the queen of glass-making, perfected the glass-blowing techniques, and created all types of glasses and containers that were sought-after all over Europe. Soon, there were different types of glasses for different beverages.

The tablecloth was a symbol of elegance and distinction, and the oldest seems to have appeared in Persia in the third century B.C.  In ancient Rome, until the Punic wars, only the bare essentials were placed on the tables at meal time, while in the Republican era, table setting was seen as a sign of civility. In the beginning, large carpets were used to muffle sounds and absorb liquids, then the use of linen began in the Middle Ages.  Between the 1400s and the 1500s, the wealthier classes adopted the use of tablecloths that slowly became a decorative accessory, with different types of lace and even damask material.

The piece of cloth that was shared, by the ancient Roman dining companions, to dry their hands during meal, was in use until the Middle Ages, became an individual napkin in the 1500s.  In the 1700s it became a commonly used napkin that was placed on the person’s knees to protect their elegant clothing during meals.

In the year 1000, the era in which the production of steel developed, the first knives arrived in the kitchens, but not on the tables until the 13th century, because the food was cut before being brought to the table. During the Renaissance, especially in Italy, cutlery finally arrived on all the tables during meals.

With regard to plates and bowls, the ancient civilizations used wood, earthenware, terracotta, ceramic, but the wealthy also had plates made of silver and gold that were decorated with precious stones. Towards the beginning of the 18th century European countries began to produce porcelain, which previously had been imported from China, where it was in use since the third century B.C.  In the 1700s small plates on which to place coffee cups and large platters were created, and by the end of the 1800s, complete services of plates, as we know them today, were created.

Ancient pots were created in terracotta, then in bronze and in iron, by the Middle Ages.  Copper pots arrived during the Renaissance and were largely used until the 19th century.  In the 1700s, the kitchens of the wealthy families had silver pots, while in the following century enamelled iron and aluminium pots were widely used.  Steel arrived in the 1930s and thanks to its durability and easy cleaning, it is still widely used today.

In the orient, in countries like China, Japan, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam, Singapore and Taiwan, forks were unknown and chopsticks, just like the ones we see today, were in use. These small slender sticks are made from bamboo, ivory, wood, bone or metal, are used in pairs and manoeuvred with one hand by holding them between the thumb, index and middle fingers.

Now let’s get back to eating with our hands, to present a delicious, fast and tasty food that is eaten. . . you got it!  With our hands . . . the Piadipizza – flat unleavened bread made like a pizza!


For the piadina:

800 gr of flour for pizza 

500 ml of water

2 gr of brewer’s yeast or 150 gr of starter

20 gr of salt 

A teaspoon of sugar

For the filling

Mixed salad, Legumes, Olives, Sun-dried tomatoes, Mustard

Vegan mayonnaise – see the recipe here:


One can use the ready-made pizza dough then just follow the necessary steps below.  To prepare the dough, pour the water into a large bowl, add the yeast and/or the starter, then add the flour a bit at a time.  When the batter gets thick, beat it well, add the sugar, more flour and the salt.  When it’s ready, leave it to rest for half an hour.   Then we begin to knead and fold… knead the dough and fold it over three times, then leave it to rest for half an hour, then repeat this procedure two more times.  Create balls with the dough, about 150/200 grammes each.  Leave them to rise in individual hermetically-sealed containers, until they have doubled in volume.  They can be placed in the fridge and taken out 4-5 hours before cooking them.  When you are ready to eat the piadipizza, heat up a skillet or pancake pan.  Roll out each ball with a rolling pin, adding a bit of flour so it won’t stick.  Cook on a high flame, first on one side then the other.  Add whatever filling you like.  We make ours with veggies but it’s delicious with all kinds of ingredients . . . vegetables, cold cuts and cheese.  Remember to save one to enjoy as a dessert, with a nice chocolate spread!!!

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