Will it be unpatriotic of me to start with the sentence I find Italians totally fascinating? Honestly, I really do. My cousin Adun calls them White Nigerians and I laughingly agree. With keen observation, you can’t help but find some semblance to us, some sort of kindred spirits connection. Here is what I have noticed. No offence to anyone please, this was written to evoke humour.
Italians are loud and gregarious just like Nigerians, talking with their hands and fingers gesticulating all over the place.
They love good food, they love to party, with lots of loud music and dancing.
Might I add that they are also very stylish. Not elegant and sophisticated like the French, but their sense of style is more earthy and in your face, plus they are not ashamed to let you know what they have on is expensive. Seeing a bit of us in them already? Let me continue.
Family is very important to Italians, and it is expected that you show up to family gatherings and holiday celebrations to strengthen La Familia. Their gatherings are filled with stories, lots of warm and affectionate hugs, slapping each other on the back, hearty laughter, noisy conversation and general boisterousness. With alcohol flowing freely, bambini’s running all over the place, mounds and mounds of great food being served and no one is watching their waistline. Does that remind you of a Nigerian family gathering? Good.
- Their men are also famous for their love of women. Errrrr, Nigerian men would you agree in that regards you are kindred spirits? Lol.
Italians are also famed for their wild and fiery temper. You don’t want to be on the wrong side of an Italian. Trust me, their temper is legendary. I’ve flat shared with a Sicilian.
Their work ethic can be somewhat blasé and laid back. Those who run businesses or work in government establishments in Nigeria are likely to be nodding their heads. I do not mean this to be offensive. Italians love to live life and work is just a means to enjoy life and not your whole life. I picked this comment about their work ethic from alifeinrome.wordpress.com owned by A Canadian blogger living in Italy. “I think the main difference is that your job is not your identity. Nobody ever asks me first, “What do you do?” My job is just a means to make money. Work is not your life”. The phrase La Dolce Vita describes them perfectly. Even early in the morning things start really slow. Try getting anything done between 12 and 2pm and you will be shocked by everything being closed. Or go to a public run establishment shortly before 4pm and the emptiness will remind you of a Ministry in 9ja. I was denied entry into the Roman Forum at 3.45pm because it closed at 4pm, and I thought WHAT!!!. The Eiffel Tower is open till midnight. Lol.
“The tendency of Italians to engage in shady and questionable financial practices is well known”. It is an open secret, the corruption in Italy. It just doesn’t get as much press as we do. Let me stop there before The Mafia comes after me. Lol.
Their driving and parking habits are veeeeery similar to ours. In their cities, just stop and observe, you will laugh your head off with the comparison to Lagos driving especially a somewhat cavalier attitude about adhering to traffic rules. Take a cab and you are likely to say a prayer at least twice before you arrive at your destination.
Their food is an absolute delight, just like ours.
Making a Nigerian styled Pizza – The inspiration behind this experiment came from ‘Puff Puff’. Italians have their own version called Zeppole. I remember sitting outside a small family run ristorante a few steps from Piazza Navona and the waiter passed by with this plate of what looked like puff puff. I squealed in delight (yes, i love food like that) quickly asking him what that was. Despite finishing off a generous portion of the utmost delicious Lasagne, I asked for Zeppole. The plate arrived with this puff puff that was doused with cinnamon and icing sugar. It was good.
With my humorous opinion of a similarity between Italians and Nigerians, I decided to explore a fusion of food and cultures by creating a Nigerian styled Pizza. I mean, everything on a Pizza, has a possible Nigerian substitute. Funny how no one has thought of doing so before. I have seen a couple of pizza recipes written by Nigerians and it is just a replica of a Western Pizza, nothing indigenously Nigerian. In the spirit of experimenting, I decided to give this a go.
What You Need
1kg of ’00′ grade plain flour
a pinch of salt
650ml warm water
2 sachets of dried fast action yeast
1 tablespoon of sugar
4 tablespoons of Olive oil
Ata din din – fried red stew will serve as Pizza Sauce
4 large tomatoes
1 small onion
1 small stump of Ginger
2 pieces of Scotch bonnet pepper
1 Tatashe – red bell pepper
Sunflower oil – use your choice of vegetable oil
For herbs I used Efinrin – scent leaves (substitute with basil)
1 teaspoon of curry powder
1 teaspoon of dried thyme
2 Knorr chicken cubes
Goat Meat – cooked
Beef – cooked
Pomo (cow skin) – cooked
Cow Leg – cooked
1 tablespoon Suya spice
1/2 Red onion
Dried chilli flakes – substitute with dry pepper
Wara – local Nigerian cheese (substitute with Indian Paneer/lumpy cottage cheese)
1 piece Ata rodo – scotch bonnet/habanero pepper
2 pieces of Green Shombo – green chilli
Uziza (hot leaf) – another herby addition
A taste of Italy
Mozzarella – what is a pizza without at least one Italian ingredient?
1. You start with the dough first as it will need 45 minutes – 1 hour to rise. ’00′ grade flour is the best for making pastry or pasta. Alternative terms are type 00, Tipo 00 or Pastry flour.
Now to the toppings.
To prep the ‘Kilishi’, I simply shredded it into bite sized chunks and soaked in 1/4 cup of hot water for hours to soften. It is advisable to do this step hours before you start as Kilishi is very hard like beef jerky and needs a long time to soften.
It will go from this…
Finish off by adding chopped ata rodo, green shombo and chopped Uziza leaves. For extra seasoning, I sprinkled over a teaspoon of Suya spice. See the representation of the Italian flag (red, white and green) and the Nigerian flag in the toppings? Hehehehehe
Bake in a hot oven for 15 minutes. Don’t leave it in for too long, otherwise the kilishi will turn hard and chewy, whilst the uziza leaves will dry out to much and crisp up. Here is my result.