Everybody knows what a pizza is. But mention the word “calzone” and expect dumb blank looks from all but the most dedicated aficionados of Italian cuisine.
Literally translated, calzone means “stocking” or “trouser”. But this is not a cause for undue concern, what a calzone really is is a folded pizza stuffed with all the ingredients more usually associated with the conventional item. The calzone is folded before it is cooked, encasing the goodness of the ingredients within.
Sometimes the calzone has its practical advantages. Italian street vendors sell them, often quite small in size, to be eaten by people on foot whilst walking or standing still.
Although strictly Italian in origin, different nationalities have produced their own variations upon the theme. In the United States the emphasis is very much on cheese as the primary or even the sole ingredient, and any sauce is provided on the side as a dip.
In Scotland calzone is sold in kebab shops filled with doner or shish meat, usually accompanied by a generous helping of onions. Legend has it that it is sometimes flambéed with a dash of Scotch whisky.
When it comes to ingredients, pretty much anything goes. Anything, at least, that one might associate with the more conventional flat open pizza. At Eco restaurant, home of the Clapham pizza, calzone is available with chicken and green chilli, goat’s cheese and zucchini, and aubergine and red pepper, as well as in the traditional ham and mozzarella form with mushrooms and garlic.
Also available from this noted Clapham pizza restaurant is the simple folded pizza, available in delicious chicken and ham, mozzarella and avocado, or ham and mozzarella.
As the world becomes a smaller place and we all become increasingly familiar with the subtleties of world cuisine, it is reassuring, not to mention very convenient, to be able to find that world on our doorstep and to enjoy all that it offers us.