All About Pizza, History, Origin, and Variants

Even today, the Neapolitan pizza maintains unscathed the mark of quality and taste that it has been due to for centuries although the phenomenon of migration of Italians abroad has exported it to all five continents.

The tradition of pizza cooked in a wood oven with the typical products that have made it famous has become an increasingly requested business, so much so as to give birth to new and cutting-edge types and methods of production: in fact, the sale of pre-cooked and frozen pizzas is increasingly widespread, given the tendency to want to eat in a hurry without wasting too much time behind the stove. 

In addition, the encounter with traditions different from the Italian one has given rise to types of pizzas prepared with some differences, such as the American one: more like high stuffed focaccia.

The term pizza in the first historical documents

Origin of the Word Pizza

It is believed that the origin of the word Pizza, is derived from pinsa, this is the past participle of the Latin verb pinsere, whose meaning refers to “crush”, “press” and “crush”, this is given to the way the pizza dough is processed, and by the shape of flatbread crushed on the floor of the oven where it was cooked.

In turn, the word pizza joins the origin of the Aramaic word “pita”, this means bread in general, on the other hand, it also has similarity to the ancient Greek πικτή (pikte), being its meaning fermented pastry evolved by the Latin “picta” that ultimately ended up being the word Pizza.

A Pizza prior to the current one

The tomato opens a special place in the history of pizza. Greek and Roman texts indicate that the use of flatbread was common in most Mediterranean cultures because flour and cheese were available as an ingredient. Etruscans are known for making spices for their flour mills and varieties (olives, dried, herbs, etc.) to serve at meals. 

The crushed breads available in Italian cuisine are: schiacchiata, piadina, farinata and flat. They were all common bread, but one of the breads that historians refer to as laganae, known as spruce. The tomato arrived in Italy on a Spanish ship in 1554.

As told in some books, hundreds of years ago, the tomato was one of the foods that for a long time was added to pizza when it was imported from America to Europe, until the sixteenth century, although European fields, not poisonous. (and other products of the pumpkin family at night). However, it was first used as a food in Italy in 1544 and is called the golden apple (‘the golden apple’).

However, it was not until the early eighteenth century in the suburbs of Naples that tomatoes were first added to flour made with yeast and pizza. , the result of adding tomato sauce to flour, turns it into a pizza as we know it today. The image of the people became famous, and they rushed to persuade foreigners to visit the city and move to the wrong places to choose this local expert.

It is known that Neapolitans before the arrival of tomatoes in Italy are now known as “white pizza” made from garlic, parsley and olive oil. Sometimes caciocavallo (a cheese made from horseradish milk and now made from buffalo milk) or a small fish called cecenielli (“Pizza and cecenielli”) was used. 

Some commentators speculate that the emergence of white pizza is said to be due to competition in which pizza makers wanted spaghetti vendors (they stuffed tomatoes into their pockets). This marriage began between flour and tomato sauce, in the early 1800s. The famous old seafood pizza started in 1734.

History of Pizza Margherita

So far, as we have seen, no reference has been made to the inventor of pizza. If there is a name to which the invention of pizza can be associated, it is certainly that of Raffaele Esposito, owner of the historic Neapolitan tavern “Pizzeria di Pietro e basta così”. 

It is with these, in fact, that the history of Margherita pizza began, in all probability the most famous and most celebrated pizza in the world. It would have been him, in 1889, to dedicate a pizza to Queen Margherita of Savoy, from whom it took its name. 

A simple preparation, which also wanted to represent the new Italian tricolor: basil for green, mozzarella for white and tomato for red. The phenomenon of pizza, despite the great success, remained limited to the Kingdom of Naples. 

In order for this to cross the Neapolitan borders, with the birth of the first dedicated places (which, of course, took the name of pizzerias), it is necessary to wait for the first of the ‘900. 

The phenomenon, however, was not even sudden. To attend the opening of the first pizzerias in the north of Italy, in fact, it is necessary to wait for the end of the Second World War. 

It was then with the first emigrations, which took place after the Second World War, that pizza began to be known, and therefore celebrated, even abroad. It is thus, with the first fast-food chains, that the history of pizza takes on the international scope that we know today. 

Pizza beyond Italy

Crossing borders, the truth is that pizza has traveled all over the world, being versioned in so many ways and with combinations as varied as tastes, customs we can imagine: there are many types of pizza. It was the Neapolitans who, with their migration, took it with them to other parts of Italy. 

Thus, if the Neapolitans had been the first, now the rest of the Italians continued on their way and it was the highest classes who took this dish by flag to all corners of the planet.

With the internationalization of the product, new varieties of pizza have emerged. Therefore, we are going to leave the Italian peninsula and abandon the most classic recipes to reach the United States and, more specifically, New York. The unofficial capital of the world has received throughout its history a good number of Italians. 

Many of its streets have become small Italian thoroughfares and pizzerias such as Lombardi’s, open since 1905 in the Little Italy neighborhood, have become popular gastronomic embassies. On a base of thick dough with mozzarella, tomato and basil, a good number of ingredients of all kinds can fall.

However, in the beginning, these places would be the preserve of Italian. Its popularity transcended the Italic diaspora with the return of American troops from World War II. When American soldiers, accustomed to eating this dish during the war in Europe, ran to these neighborhoods and businesses in search of more. Demand inevitably grew. And his fame.

Pizza with thick edge and American-style salami

Given the business, in a short time franchises would emerge, spreading the specialty even more with Shakey’s Pizza, the first chain, and especially with Pizza Hut, which began in 1958. The fast food concept applied to this traditional dish was born with them, especially when society began to go mostly on wheels. Pizza also ended up freezing, literally, when the Celentano brothers patented the first frozen one in the fifties. 

And in the eighties, with pizzas to take away, the guardapizza, also known as sepi, was invented. That curious piece of plastic in the shape of a tiny table that serves so that the lid of the boxes does not come into contact with food.

Among the best homemade pizza recipes, we can highlight the pepperoni pizza, the Roman or the classic cooked ham prosciutto. For lovers of spicy, there is the famous diavola, while the most cheesemakers will prefer the pizza four cheeses or quattro formaggi, one of the so-called white pizzas, without tomato and without any other ingredient other than the four cheeses (fontina, parmesan, gorgonzola and mozzarella) and ground pepper.

Flying over the world of the most international pizzas, there are many versions that exist around the globe and it is precisely its versatility one of the great secrets of its success. Among the most famous adaptations we find the Fugazza typical of Argentina, the Sfincione of Mexico, the German Hawaiian pizza with the controversial pineapple as the main ingredient or the New York and Chicago Style, versions in the purest American style. 

Also in the United States was born one of the most famous today, the barbecue pizza, made with minced meat and BBQ sauce that provides that spicy and juicy touch that you like so much.

Pizza is probably the most common dish on the menu of any Italian restaurant. It is a baked flatbread, usually round in shape, made with wheat flour, salt, water and yeast, covered with tomato sauce and cheese.

There are a lot of varieties depending on the format of the bread, the way it is cooked and the combination of different ingredients.

Pills Of Curiosity. I Didn’t Know And Did You?

  • Do you know which country eats the most pizza? No, it is not Italy, which however ranks second, but the United States. In third place we find Brazil.
  • Domenico Crolla in his restaurant in Glasgow makes portraits of pizza. Very famous that of Queen Elizabeth.
  • Thanks to a collection of signatures of 2 million people, the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of UNESCO on December 9, 2017, declares the Neapolitan pizza and its tradition intangible heritage of UNESCO.
  • Pizza also deserves to be counted as an Italian excellence. Although its origin hides several difficulties and is intertwined with past history, dating back to the sixteenth century: in fact, the very word “pizza” is nothing more than a distortion of what in Naples at that time was called “pitta”, or a type of crushed bread well known and appreciated at the time.

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