Origins of pizza

Pizza | Enjoy Food & Wine
Written by EFW Staff

Pizza, from the past to today

Pizza is the dish par excellence of the Italian gastronomic tradition, the symbol of Made in Italy and of the good way of eating. It is world-renowned and represents the feather in the cup of Italy, besides being imitated in every corner of the world.
Despite this, few people know that this food has a centennial history, complex and pretty uncertain as well.

Thousand of years ago…

Pizza was born in the XIX century, but it is important to give its dignity to this product taking into consideration also its forefathers. Let’s go back to 3000 years ago; in Ancient Egypt, the tradition wants to celebrate the birthday of the Pharaoh eating a kind of thin bread seasoned with aromatic herbs, whereas the Greek scholar Erodoto talk about different Babylonian recipes similar to white flattered bread and focaccia. During the Roman times, it was tradition to cook focaccia made of spelt and also Virgilio talk about it in some of its works. In particular, he wrote about some peasants sifting flour obtained by the grinding of grains of wheat, to knead with aromatic herbs and salt, making a round and thin shape, cooked on the ashes. There are traces of the preparation of this dish in Medieval period and Renaissance as well.

Pizza and its “recent” history

Regina Margherita foto - Enjoy food & Wine

History of pizza starts to grow and be more defined after two important events:

• The Langobardic imported in Italy a buffalo that gave the necessary milk to produce mozzarella;
• The discovery of America and the following spreading of tomato in Italy.

Marinara was born in Naples around 1730, but for the famous Margherita we have to wait 1889.
The history tells that the best pizza maker of that time, Raffaele Esposito, realized three pizzas for Umberto I and Queen Margherita: Mastunicola pizza (margarine, cheese, basil), Marinara with oregano, oil, garlic and tomato, and the last type with mozzarella, fresh basil and tomato to symbol the colours of the Italian flag.
The Queen liked that much this version that it was called “pizza Margherita”, in honour of the queen.
Until 1900 the diffusion of pizza is limited to the area of Naples, but with the arrival of the Second World War and on the flood of emigration, pizza gathers a great success both in the North of Italy and abroad, becoming a world phenomenon.

It is worth remembering that 4th February 2010 pizza became Guaranteed National Speciality by European Union.

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EFW Staff