Food professional discloses easy methods to spot genuine dishes – from pizza to pasties

Foodie fans, listen up!

David Atherton, the culinary whiz and champ of Great British Bake Off 2019, has dished out his top tips on spotting the real McCoy when it comes to grub. From the perfect Italian pizza base to the classic Cornish pasty, he’s got the lowdown on how to dodge those dodgy knock-offs.

Atherton spilled the beans on what makes a Neapolitan Margherita pizza an authentic slice of heaven think Italian flour, ripe tomatoes, and the real-deal mozzarella, all protected by EU law. He’s adamant about the dough being hand-kneaded and the size being bang on no more than 35cm across with a crust that’s got to be between 1cm and 2cm high.

And for pasty enthusiasts, it’s all about that crimping down the side a historical handle for miners, no less! The filling? It’s got to be a precise mix of mince, potato, swede, and onion, with beef making up exactly 12.5% and veggies a quarter, seasoned simply with salt and pepper.

Bagel buffs, take note: a true New York bagel is always boiled before baking, giving it that iconic soft yet chewy texture, topped off with a shiny golden crust. Atherton’s final verdict? “If it’s not from New York , it’s just a roll with a hole.”

Atherton revealed that croissants didn’t make their way to France until the 19th century, originating from Vienna. However, today’s top-notch French all-butter baked goods are straight, not curved, as per French law.

He also shared that a genuine pork pie should hail from Melton Mowbray, while authentic Italian pasta should only contain durum wheat, water, and salt with an egg thrown in occasionally.

Shoppers can determine if olive oil is the real deal if the bottle specifies that the olives have been pressed just once, without any heat. The colour of the oil is another giveaway, with a golden hue indicating a mild flavour profile. Furthermore, vinegar should always be listed on the label of a bona fide ketchup bottle.

Toasted New York Style Bagels with Cream Cheese.
Toasted New York Style Bagels with Cream Cheese.

In addition to David’s revelations, a survey of 2,000 adults found that 62% believe it’s crucial for the food they consume to be true to its country of origin. This is because traditional forms taste best (59%) and authenticity typically equates to high quality (46%).

Over a third (35%) have looked into the origins of food to ensure they’re eating the right thing. The survey also discovered that Brits sample cuisine from three different cultures each week on average.

Exactly half confidently claim to be well-versed in authentic foods from across the globe. And over a quarter (27%) enjoy quizzing locals about their cuisine while on holiday to brush up on their knowledge.

According to a survey by OnePoll, 46% of respondents believe that the variety of food options is the best part of going on holiday. In addition, 46% expressed a desire to travel to Italy for an authentic pizza experience, while over three in ten (31%) are keen to visit New York for a taste of its famous bagels.

Alastair Unite, a spokesperson from New York Bakery Co. , which commissioned the study, stated: “We’re on a mission to champion authenticity. That’s why we’ve teamed up with David Atherton as the nation’s ‘Chief Authenticity Expert’. Our know-how, combined with his baking expertise, means together we can show people what to look for when buying favourite foods such as bagels, pizza, pasties and pies. Amongst the factors to consider are history and heritage, iconic flavours and the baking method (think boiled and baked) to provide top-tier texture. This campaign proves how Brits want to eat authentic quality food. We’ve developed this handy guide to help remind shoppers what to look out for.”

The guide includes tips on identifying authentic foods, such as:

  • NEW YORK BAGEL Chewy texture, boiled and baked, golden crust.
  • ITALIAN PIZZA diameter of 35 centimetres and no higher than two centimetres tall.
  • CORNISH PASTY thickly crimped sides.
  • PORK PIE from Melton Mowbray.
  • FRENCH CROISSANT straight not crescent shaped.
  • ITALIAN PASTA made from Durum wheat.
  • OLIVE OIL made using no heat.
  • KETCHUP with added vinegar.