Pizza is baked pie with a thin, bread-like crust and a variety of seasonings and toppings spread over the top. Pizza as we know it today originated in Italy.
Although Pizza has an uncertain history, we know for sure that a type of flatbread, baked with a variety of toppings, has been eaten
for over 3,000 years.
Everybody likes Pizza. But that
was not always the case. Only
sixty years ago most people in North America didn’t know what pizza was.
Today, Pizza is the only food with it’s own section in the phone book. This is because there are so many phone numbers of pizzerias and pizza deliveries, and they are all so frequently called!
The Evolution Of Pizza
No one is certain of when the idea of pizza really started and how it evolved from the flavoured flatbreads of ancient times to the popular food we know today.
However, there is evidence of people from the Stone Age, 3,000 years ago, making a flatbread by mixing flour with water, and heating it on a hot stone.
In the sixth century BC, it is said that soldiers baked a similar flatbread on their shields and covered it with cheese and dates.
There is also evidence of a flat flour cake, very similar to flatbread, in Pompeii. This flat flour cake was very popular and, like flatbread, was baked.
Surprisingly, it was not until the sixteenth century that tomatoes were brought back to Europe from the new world (Peru).
Although they came in the sixteenth century, it took Europe a while to trust these vegetables; thinking they were poisonous. it was not until the late eighteenth century that adding tomato sauce to flatbread was common. At this time pizza was still considered a food for the poor.
King Ferdinand IV, the King of Naples, and his wife discovered this delicious “fast food” and loved it so much the wife decided to build a pizza oven in their summer palace so the chef could make it for them and their guests. This helped expand the popularity of pizza into the richer population.
While the King of Italy, King Umberto I and his wife, Queen margherita di Savoia were taking a holiday in their Naples palace, they ordered the most popular pizza chef, Raffaele Esposito, to come make them his specialties. One of the pizza’s the chef made symbolized the Italian flag, with tomatoes (for red), cheese (for white), and basil (for green. The Queen loved it so much that the chef decided to name the pizza after her (Margherita Pizza). This is the pizza that established the foundation of modern pizza.
It confirmed Naples as the pizza capital of
During the late nineteenth century pizza was sold from peddlers who baked there pizza in a kitchen and held it in a copper container with a second layer, or a false bottom, that was full of charcoal from an oven to keep the pizza warm. This container was carried on the peddlers head while they walked up and down the streets.
As pizza became more popular people would build stalls to sell the pizza. These stalls eventually evolved into the Pizzeria's we know to this day.
From Pizza Peddlers to Dominos
Pizza was not introduced to America until the late nineteenth century by the Italians.
It was not until the year 1905 that, Gennaro Lombardi, opened the first Pizzeria in America. The pizzeria was built in New York City.
1943 was the year the Chicago style deep-dish was created. This pizza is cooked with a flaky crust that rises an inch above the plate and frames the toppings in the middle area of the pizza.
Finally, during the Year 1950, pizza became more popular for Americans to eat.
Frozen pizzas were invented in the year 1957 and could be found in local grocery stores. Pizzas were first marketed by the Celentano Brothers.
Soon later, pizza was the most popular frozen food.
Chain restaurants kicked in once pizza took a leap in popularity. There were tons of pizza chains starting up, for example Pizza hut in 1954.
Nowadays, the American pizza economy is dominated by delivery businesses such as Dominos.
At least once a month, a stunning 93% of Americans eat pizza.
Not only that, but one study shows that each man, woman, and child eats, on average, 23 pounds of pizza a year.
Times reported in 1953 – “ The highly seasoned pizza with its tough crust and tomato topping is such a gastronomical craze that the open pie threatens the pre-eminence of the hotdog and hamburger.”
Compared to when that quote was written the pizza world has changed a lot. Now pizza is considered a food that you eat whenever there is a group of people and you want to have some fun. It is tasty, and easy to prepare while having a celebration.
Italian Pizza Today
Pizza is very important to the Italian heritage. There are two styles of pizza in Italy: Neapolitan and Lazio.
Neapolitans take their pizza very seriously and believe that theirs is the true form of Italian Pizza. The True Neapolitan Pizza Association recently made some rules of which you have to follow while making a pizza, to call it an Authentic Neapolitan Pizza:
· Has to be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven at 485°C for no more than 60 to 90 seconds
· Base must be hand-kneaded (not with a pin or any mechanical device.)
· Pizza has to be no more than 35cm in diameter, and be more than one-third of a centimetre thick in the centre
Neapolitan Purists believe there is only two types of pizza: the Marinara and the Margherita.
The toppings for the Marinara pizza are: tomatoes, oregano, garlic, and extra virgin olive oil.
The toppings for the Margherita Pizza are: tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese, fresh basil.
Lazio Style pizza is sold throughout Italy, in two different ways:
·It is sold in take-away shops, where they usually sell the pizza by weight and it is cooked on a rectangular baking pan, in an electric oven, quite thick.
·Or it is sold in Pizzerias, where it is usually cooked in a wood-fired oven with a thin, crispier crust than the Neapolitan Pizza. The pizza is sold in it’s traditional form, a circle.
Examples of Lazio Pizza:
·Pizza Romana: tomatoes, oregano, mozzarella, anchovies, and oil
·Pizza Quattro Formaggi: tomatoes, mozzarella, stacchino, fontina, and gorgonzola
·Pizza Viennese: tomato, mozzarella, German sausage, oregano, and oil
·Pizza Capricciosa: mozzarella, tomato, mushrooms, artichokes, cooked ham, olives, and oil
Adaptations Around the World
Australia: Traditional Australian pizza consists of a tomato sauce base, mozzarella cheese, bacon, and egg.
Brazil: Traditional Brazilian Pizza consists of a tomato sauce base with mozzarella, but is topped off with sweet things, such as banana, chocolate, or pineapple.
Malaysia: Some major pizza shops
are Dominos, Pizza Hut, and Papa
John ' s.
India: Pizzas consist of various Indian flavoured toppings, for example tandoori chicken.
Israel: Some pizzas have huge amounts of vegetables for toppings. There are also some pizzas with unusual toppings such as yogurt.
Pakistan: Not all of Pakistan has been introduced to pizza but in places that have been, the popular pizzas are spicy-chicken and sausage-based.
Generally, pizza is not exactly good for you and is known for having lots of salt, fat, and calories; however, it really depends where the pizza was made. For example, Pizza Hut Pizza’s have way more calories, fat, and salt, than homemade pizza.
European nutrition research shows that people who eat pizza at least once a week have a lower chance of getting cancer in the mouth, oesophagus, and throat. One scientist thinks this is due to lycopene, an antioxidant chemical in the tomatoes which is known to protect you from cancer.
From Rags to Riches
The pizza moved almost over night, from being a mystery to most Americans, to over powering the hamburger and hotdog in popularity.
In the 1940’s, pizza was virtually unknown in America but by the 1950’s, in the years following World War II, pizza was the most popular party food because of it’s delicious taste, and it’s quick and easy preparation. After World War II people craved fun and this craving seemed to be satisfied by pizza.