Legend has it that Esposito was called upon to make a pizza for Italian King Umberto I and Queen Margherita when they visited Naples in 1889. That pizza, which featured fresh tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil, is still known as Pizza Margherita today.
The Friday Happiness Association has one goal when you strip away everything else: making pizza. Excellent pizza, majestic pizza that will make people travel many miles to eat, and return again and again. And making lots and lots of it. The deal is 10 Euros for all you can eat, and two drinks tokes – but the kitchen closes 2300 sharp, so the wise get to the queue before 2000, and rotate around the serving area 2 or 3 times to get their fill before they pause for a quiet drink in the Cocktail Bar, then take their choice of two stages to dance to absolutely obscene hours of the next day. And great fun it is too, so they tell me. But it is the pizza that draws in the crowds to this farming community.
Early on the holidaying tourists make up the customer base, followed by the couples, groups and friends out for a fabulous night. Then, later the drinkers come through the front entrance, but by then the kitchen has long closed and the Woofers are partying themselves, and they deserve it. Their shift starts at 1200, although some preparation takes place on Thursday. Then they start kneading the dough, lots of it, for the hundreds of bases that will be needed. Sauces made ready, vegetables and meats and tuna primed for addition before the specially adapted oven is log loaded and lit. The pizzas are cooked in minutes and the grateful volunteers get to test the first pizzas for richly deserved dinner. And then once the conveyor belt starts, a real division of labor, it pumps out quality, fresh and homemade Italian-inspired bread based treats. The Woofers, some who will be new to the job, work together in an inspiring, pressure filled environment, hot long hours are whiled away as they sing and dance and enjoy a cold fresh beer – and produce the prized pizza. Helping each other clean as they go. It’s amazing and testament to the method that a quality product is produced week after week despite the cooks changing on a weekly basis as people come and go.
The benefit of working and living and laughing and crying together in this environment is that we all learn new skills and add to the repertoire of that which already exists. If you want to learn how to cook cracking Italian-inspired bread based foodstuffs then you could do a lot worse than spending a couple of Friday nights in this kitchen.