Sure, it is known as pide in Turkey, but it is nonetheless the most authentic pizza you will ever have. It should be noted that Turkish people do not consider pide as pizza. Lahmacun is the officially Turkish pizza. However, pide, I really do believe, is what most Westerners would consider to be pizza based off the template ‘set’ by Italians.
Given that the Ottoman empire at its height stretched to the south of Italy, I am not surprised that pide has been claimed by Italy. True Italian pizza does not mirror its subsequent derivatives found in America and elsewhere. True Italian pizza is the thinnest, flattest hearth baked dough, topped with a dainty medley of toppings all packed with amazing flavour. If I did a good job of describing Italian pizza, then I am yet to do an even better one of describing pide.
Made fresh for each customer, dough is rolled and hand pressed to a thin layer of perfection and then oven baked with a medley of flavours so simple in ingredients but complex in taste it is almost blasphemous. Thinly sliced sweet peppers, tomato, lettuce, beef and onions sprinkled with the perfect herb complement are evenly spread on the flat pide and topped with the slightest topping of cheese. Cheddar is not popular in Turkey. Rather, goats cheese is usually the order of the day, which certainly is less intense in flavour than cheddar.
I think what overwhelms me about pide is that no one ingredient is center stage. Rather all ingredients are necessary to create this insanely cozy warm rewarding culinary experience.
Unlike western pizza which is thick, hard and plastered in tomato paste and cheese, pide is the canvas on which, I think, the Ottoman culinary aesthetic shines. No olives for me though. As a result, you are not left with this overwhelmingly heavy feeling that the consumption of Western pizza almost always guarantees. And for that, I am most grateful. It is refreshing to have a reminder of your day’s meal on your tongue and not felt in your stomach many hours after eating.
I think what also adds to the experience of pide is that many times you can watch the whole process from start to finish. The making of the dough, placing of the ingredients and the placing of the unbaked pide into the authentic stone hearth oven. It is a must see and must try experience.