Nobody could exactly pinpoint where or when the “flat bread” (or dough) in pizza was first made, as there are no established references. Early forms of dough had a number of variants (by different names) that existed in other cultures and civilizations, even before its flourish in Italy had ever been recorded. Enjoy every bite from here hungry howie’s coupon.
It has been said that pizza could have been conceived by the Phoenicians, the Greeks, Romans, or anyone who first discovered the method of mixing water with flour before heating the mixture on a hot stone.
It eventually became a common practise to use various ingredients on this cooked dough as toppings, for added flavour.
Other “pizza-like” dough that made it to our generation include focaccia, coca, pita, and piadina, among others which follow the general idea of covering the flat pastry with other ingredients such as tomato, cheese, meat, and vegetables.
Historians claim that an earlier form of pizza has been part of the Italian diet since the Stone Age. It was simple bread baked beneath the stones of the fire, while an assortment of toppings were added once cooked. This staple became popular among the working men and their families since it was both convenient and cheap.
By the 16th century, tomatoes, which were originally thought to be poisonous, made their way to Europe from Peru. Poor citizens, belonging to Naples’s lower class society, started to add tomatoes to their dough and created what was probably the first pizza, as we know it today.
At the time, Italy had already recognized “Neapolitan pies” as the best of their kind. In fact, Spanish soldiers of the Viceroy regularly feasted on the increasingly famous specialty – presently known as the “Neapolitan pizza”.
Neapolitan pizza continued to gain popularity such that by the 17th century, visitors to Naples would venture into its poorer sectors to sample the peasant dish made by pizzaioli (pizza makers).
Perhaps the most important event in the history of pizza that made a permanent mark in history, establishing Naples as the pizza capital of the world, happened more than 100 years ago.
In 1889, while on summer holiday in Naples, Umberto I, King of Italy along with Queen Margherita di Savoia, summoned Naples’s most popular pizza maker, Raffaele Esposito, to sample his specialties.
Esposito made two “classic” pizzas: the marinara topped with tomato, garlic, oregano, and olive oil; and the mastunicola which had lard, cheese, and basil as toppings. In honour of the Queen of Italy, the pizza maker’s wife prepared a variant made of red tomatoes, white mozzarella cheese, and a garnish of green basil: colours that made up the Italian flag.
Queen Margherita was so pleased especially with the variant with basil. Esposito later named it “pizza margherita” – the pizza that permanently established Naples as the pizza capital of the world and has set the standard for which today’s pizza evolved.
Records would later show mastunicola as the oldest Neapolitan pizza, which was first made in 1660; followed by the marinara in 1750; the “margherita” in 1850; and margherita’s variant (with basil) in 1889.
Italian migrants brought pizza to America in the latter half of the 19th century. The authentic Italian pizza evolved as other variants came out, including “frozen ones.”
From baking just the right combination of fresh dough, mozzarella and tomatoes in traditional wood-burning ovens, the Neapolitan pizza underwent various “innovations” especially in America.
While Italians who came to the States were not impressed by thick and fancy pizzas, its popularity continued to increase at an unprecedented scale worldwide.
Even then, nothing beats the original; to those who love the real thing, what really matters is not the quantity of ingredients, but the quality.
The authentic Neapolitan pizza is a part of Europe’s food heritage, something I am extremely proud of, being an expert in the making of” Pizza Napoletana”!.
As purists, Neapolitan pizza makers will continue to adhere to strict traditional standards regarding ingredients and preparation; which include using only San Marzano tomatoes, and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and extra virgin olive oil.
Now, don’t you want to be part of history? It is being written everyday! And I challenge each and every one of you to make the most out of your jobs, activities, and passions (including making pizza, of course) and begin making your own mark.