Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Franco Manca: 101 Things to Eat in London (UYTOL)*

Can a pizza, made with flour sourced from Naples, olive oil from Salerno, cheese from Somerset and cooked in an Italian built pizza oven in Brixton be authentically Neapolitan? The question of authenticity is a mine field. It’s something we crave from our food and from our experiences. We brag about travel, about meals, about things we have seen. We seek to fulfil a need that we have experienced something fundamental.  That only if something is replete with all the attendant markers of authenticity, only then is it actually real. Only through a peculiar combination of geography, time and who is physically present can an experience be credited as authentic and therefore given more meaning and weight. Is there a more authentic Neapolitan pizza than the one I ate for lunch at Franco Manca in Brixton Market? I would argue that there probably isn’t. Go to Naples and you won’t get any of them to agree on anything. The closer you get to something the fuzzier it becomes, the less cohesive as a thing.  From the distance of a pizza oven in Brixton to Naples, this looks entirely like pizza from Naples. Sure, you might get individually better pizza but more authentic? Probably, but that's not the point.

Is it good?  It would be almost heresy to say that it wasn’t. Niamh at Eat Like a Girl and Patrick Carpenter at Ostrea Edulis have been two lone voices in the night, claiming cold and claggy pizza. Mine was good, pretty damn good. Classic toppings of capers, anchovies, tomatoes and mozzarella were beautiful on a pitch perfect tender yet crisp base.  The staff were cool too, not the tyrants that some commenter’s had me fearing. Brixton market is freezing, however, so I remained wrapped up like Mum-Ra The Ever-living for the duration but I actually think that added something to the experience, authentic or otherwise.  I’d be hard pressed not to eat in here every day if I was more local, I scarfed the entire pizza and didn’t feel like I’d eaten half a ton of aggregate like I do with most pizza. Something of a miracle.

* until you tire of life.