Pizza is one of the most popular foods around the globe! In fact, pizza can be found in almost every country in the world. However, the Italians are still the inventors of this much-loved delight. Here’s a bite-size history of Italian pizza…
Humble beginnings & strange new fruit
We’ve been topping flatbreads with tasty ingredients since the ancient Greeks. But, the term ‘pizza’ was coined near Rome or Naples (depending on who you trust) around 1000 AD. By the 18th century, this dish had become the cost-effective way of feeding the peasantry. The Italians also found a new fruit brought over from the New World. This is how the humble tomato made its way onto the traditional flatbread. Thank goodness it did – to form the pizza base we know and love today!
A queenly salute & a hop across the pond
Pizza was relatively unknown until 1889. Till Queen Margherita and King Umberto I toured their kingdom, and the queen noticed this delicious peasant dish. She adored it! Soon, her personal chef was creating a series of pizzas – all according to her personal tastes. The chef won her over with a creation that saluted the colours of the Italian flag. The green (basil), red (tomatoes) and white (mozzarella). This dish was named for the monarch, and gave us the Margherita pizza we know today!
Pizza’s next big break came in the form of World War II. Allied soldiers stationed in Italy fell in love with the dish and demanded its recreation back home. This gave rise to the countless pizzerias and pizza chains, that are around the world today.
‘Real’ pizza the Italian way
The question is, what should you be looking for in Italy if you want to taste an authentic Neapolitan pizza? We’ve got great news! The Italians formed a governing body called the ‘True Neapolitan Pizza Association’ (TNPA) in 1984. The Association upholds the standards of true Neapolitan pizza.
Only the Margherita and Marinara are regarded as authentic Italian pizzas. The Marinara has tomato, garlic, oregano, extra virgin olive oil and possibly basil. There are very strict rules for the use of either of these pizza names on Italian soil.
To be called ‘authentic Italian’, the pizza must be round and no more than 13 and three-quarter inches in diameter. It must have a center of less than one-tenth of an inch tall, and a crust of three-quarters of an inch thick or less. The dough must be kneaded by hand; and prepared from traditional types of flour, yeast, salt and tomatoes.
And there you have it – a tasty, bite-size history of Italian pizza! Bon Appetito!
RELATED: You can join Expat Explore on one of our regional tours of Italy – to get the real la Dolce Vita experience!