Short History of Pizza
Let’s face it, no matter who you are, or what country you’re from, you are bound to have at least one fond memory of pizza. Pizza is a dish that is enjoyed all over the world, making it one of the most beloved food to ever grace a dinner table. Be it breakfast, lunch, or dinner, people of all ages enjoy pizza, and it’s not hard to see why. One thing a lot of people agree on is that even if the pizza is bad, it’s still good. But despite the massive popularity of pizza, how much do we really know about it?
Most already know it has its roots firmly placed in Italy, a couple of hundred years ago. But that’s the extent of their pizza knowledge. It’s not really something you should prioritize, as a slice of pizza at Calda Pizza is still going to taste amazing whether or not you know its origins. But it is something that gives your love for the dish more depth, as you appreciate just where pizza has been and what happened in order for it to become one of our favorite dishes today. Here, we lay a down a brief history of pizza.
Some experts have said pizza has been around as far back as the Neolithic age, more commonly known as the last part of the Stone Age. At least, food similar to this flavorful dish has been recorded, as humans have been putting different ingredients on top of bread for more flavor for thousands of years. The ancient Greeks have also been recorded to bake a type of flat bread called plakous, which they garnished with various herbs, as well as onions, garlic, and cheese. The first documented use of the word pizza, however, was in 997 AD, in Gaeta, Italy, as well as different parts of central and southern Italy.
When we talk about modern-day pizza, though, the innovation that lead to this delicious dish would be back in the 16th century when tomatoes were introduced in Europe. It almost didn’t happen, however, as a lot of Europeans believed that tomato was poisonous when it was first brought to their shores from the Americas. This is because it does belong to the nightshade family of fruits, which do have some poisonous members. Necessity forced them to make use of it though, and it gained popularity around the poorer areas near Naples when they added it to their yeast-based flat bread.
In fact, the dish gained so much popularity that tourists began to look for it, especially when visitors of Naples went to the poorer areas surrounding it to try their local specialties. It was considered a peasant’s dish, because it was a way for poor people to make use of extra ingredients. A historian by the name of Antonio Mattozi documented 54 pizzerias already existed in 1807, and the number increased to 120 by the second half of the century.
The “pure” pizza
No matter what the food, there are certain people who will always say only the “pure” dish is worthy of being cooked and eaten. In pizza, there are two “pure versions,” namely the marinara and the margherita. The older of the two, marinara, is usually topped with tomato, garlic, oregano, as well as extra virgin olive oil. The name comes from the dish routinely cooked by “la marinara,” which means the seaman’s wife. She made this for her spouse as he returned from fishing forays in the Bay of Naples.
The story of margherita pizza is pretty popular. Raffaele Esposito, a baker at Pizzeria di Pietro, baked three different pizzas for a royal visit from King Umberto I, and his wife Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen was especially impressed with a pizza that evoked the colors of the flat of Italy: green, white, and red. The pizza was topped with fresh basil leaves, tomatoes, and mozzarella cheese. The dish was thereafter known as margherita, in her honor.
Despite the history of pizza though, there are thousands of types today that we all enjoy. Despite its humble beginnings of being a peasant’s dish, it is now an industry that spans over 100 countries and one that annually rakes in billions. Now that we know the origins of this delectable dish, it only makes use appreciate it more, and we will only grow fonder of it as time passes by.