Women in Pizza: Sophia Loren
**In honor of Women’s History Month, I’ll be posting about women in the pizza industry every few days in March. The pizza biz is pretty male-dominated, but its past is sprinkled with major influence from women in both Italy and the United States.
We can’t talk about women in pizza without starting with Sophia Loren. She became an actress in the 1950s with a string of successful films, including L’oro di Napoli (The Gold of Naples) in 1954. She plays a pizza maker who loses her wedding ring. In the film, she demonstrated a style of pizza making that’s historically female-dominated. Women would set up a pot of oil over a flame and fry thin cakes of dough. This pizza was served as street food or, as in L’oro di Napoli, delivered to neighbors in higher apartments via rope and bucket. There’s some great pizza making in that movie!
But that’s just the beginning of Loren’s love of pizza. She wrote several cookbooks and talked about pizza A LOT. It’s pretty amazing. Sophia’s love of food helped her become one of the most loved actresses in Italy, particularly in the South. She’s even featured on a Neapolitan pizza box alongside her colleague Antonio de Curtis aka Totò.
Sophia Loren spoke publicly about eating well but also eating healthy. On that note, here’s Sophia Loren’s fried pizza alla Napoletana recipe:
DOUGH: (I prefer weight measures but she gives volume so we’ll deal.)
- 2 cups all-purpose flour (add more if dough is wet)
- 1 teaspoon yeast
- 1 package active dry yeast dissolved in 1 and ¼ cups lukewarm water
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- Tomato sauce or canned marinara sauce or peeled chopped tomatoes
- Mozzarella cheese, sliced
- Small tin fillet anchovies or sweet sliced Italian sausage, salami or thin strips proscuitto ham
- Dried sweet basil
- Freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Freshly ground pepper
- 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
Combine water and yeast. Knead thoroughly, adding salt and oil after combining flour and yeasty water. Continue kneading until smooth. Place in lightly oiled bowl, cover. Set in warm place about 3 hours, or until dough doubles in bulk. Flatten, roll out dough into a 10 inch thick disk, about ¼ inch thick. Heat olive oil in large cast-iron skillet. When oil is sizzling, add pizza, cook over medium flame about 10 minutes until golden and topping is bubbly. Serve immediately.