PIZZA

THE HISTORY OF PIZZA:
Like living things, pizza has evolved into its current form very gradually. It bears the mark of many ancient cultures centered around the Mediterranean sea. If you're looking for a simplified review of the history of pizza, try the outline below. If you want more detail, try the longer review that follows this outline. Ancient Greeks ate a flat, baked bread with assorted toppings called plankuntos. This flatbread may have been a derivative of something Babylonians ate in earlier centuries. While originally thought to be poisonous, Spaniards who had been to Mexico and Peru introduced the tomato to Italy in the 16th century. The original mozzarella cheese was made from the milk of Indian water buffalo in the 7th century. It was introduced to Italy in the 18th century. The world's first true pizzeria may have been "Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba" which opened in 1830 and is still in business today at Via Port'Alba 18 in Naples. Italian and Greek peasants ate earlier forms of pizza for several centuries before it became a hit among aristocracy. In 1889, a Neapolitan named Rafaele Esposito prepared pizza for King Umberto I and Queen Margherita, who apparently loved it. An Italian immigrant named Gennaro Lombardi opened the first U.S. pizzeria in 1895 in New York City. Pizza is now consumed all over the world, though travelers are often amazed by how different cultures have adapted pizza to their own preferences. The History of Pizza In Detail It's kind of silly to talk about anyone "inventing" pizza. Pizza has undergone a very slow process of evolution over the centuries, but it is quite certainly the cultures of the Mediterranean that deserve credit for creating it. Historical records suggest that people in ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome all ate things that are very similar to our modern pizza crust. Ancient Egyptians had a custom of celebrating the Pharaoh's birthday with a flat bread seasoned with herbs, and Herodotus, a Greek historian described Babylonian recipes that are very similar to contemporary pizza crust. The word pizza may be a derivative of the Latin word picea, a word which the Romans used to describe the blackening of bread in an oven. PREDECESSORS OF PIZZA IN THE MIDDLE AGES : Pizza most clearly took the form that we are now familiar with in preRenaissance Naples, a large city in central Italy. Poor peasants used their limited ingredients (wheat flour, olive oil, lard, cheese and natural herbs) to make a seasoned, flat bread garnished with cheese. Mozzarella cheese was one benefit of an invasion from Asian peoples, who brought the water buffalo to Italy. Today, the best mozzarella cheese is still made from water buffalo milk. The word pizza, as it is currently spelled, also emerged some time in the Middle Ages. It was used to describe both sweet and salty pies that were becoming increasingly popular among Italian aristocracy.

641.5

K.Rajshekhar.

November- 04.

No.23 (02) BSc H& HA.

Page 1 of 3

THE FEARED AMERICAN TOMATO : Europeans returning from Peru and Mexico brought with them what was originally thought to be a very poisonous fruit: the tomato. Precisely how they decided that the tomato was actually edible is unclear, but as Southern Europeans overcame their suspicions, the tomato became enormously popular. Today, of course, the tomato is a crucial component of the Mediterranean cuisine, and is still used in most pizza recipes. NAPLES BECOMES THE PIZZA CAPITOL OF THE WORLD : Naples gradually assumed its reputation as having the finest pizza in Italy throughout the 17th and 18th centuries. In the 19th century, pizza became a popular fast food. Before pizzerias became very popular, however, street vendors (typically young boys) walked around the city with small tin stoves on their heads, calling out to attract customers. While undoubtedly uncomfortable for these 19th-century delivery boys, this street-vending method made pizza ever-more popular, and paved the way for the opening of the world's first pizzeria.The world's first true pizzeria, "Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba", opened in 1830 and is still in business today at Via Port'Alba 18 in Naples. Pizzerias in this era usually included a large brick oven, a marble counter where the crust was prepared, and a shelf lined with ingredients. Contemporary Neapolitan pizzerias are prepared in the same way they were 100 years ago. The large brick ovens make the pizzerias uncomfortably hot in every season except winter, but the unique flavor of these brick-oven pizzas is unmatched. Pizzaioli (makers of pizza) often assemble the entire pizza on a marble counter right before the customer's eyes. Some writers have considered the pizza an invention of the man who is responsible for making it an international phenomenon (but the fact that this man worked in a pizzeria makes it difficult to call him the father of pizza!). In 1889, Rafaele Esposito of the Pizzeria di Pietro e Basta Cosi (now called Pizzeria Brandi) baked pizza especially for the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. To make the pizza a little more patriotic-looking, Esposito used red tomato sauce, white mozzarella cheese and green basil leaves as toppings. Queen Margherita loved the pizza, and what eventually became Pizza Margherita has since become an international standard. Pizzeria Brandi, now more than 200 years old, still proudly displays a royal thank-you note signed by Galli Camillo, "head of the table of the royal household", dated June 1889. Neapolitan pizza is still widely regarded as the best in the world, probably because of the fresh ingredients available to Neapolitan pizzerias: herbs, garlic, and tomatoes grown in the rich volcanic ash of Vesuvius, and fresh mozzarella from water buffalo milk. Today, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (the Association of True Neapolitan Pizza) maintains strict member guidelines for ingredients, dough, and cooking. This elite organization maintains that pizza dough must be made only with flour, natural yeast or brewers yeast, salt and water. Dough must be kneaded by hand or mixers which do not cause the dough to overheat, and the dough must be punched down and shaped by hand. Also, only wood-burning, bell-shaped brick ovens are permitted in pizzerias that belong to this organization. The pizza must be cooked on 641.5 K.Rajshekhar. November- 04. No.23 (02) BSc H& HA. Page 2 of 3

the surface of the oven (often made of volcanic stone), and not in any pan or container, with oven temperatures reaching at least 400-430° C (750-800° F). These ovens often have to heat up for hours before the first pizza is cooked. Pizza and pizza-like creations are common throughout Italy, and a number of regions claim the honor of having invented it in the first place. Not that the invention could ever be proven -- the idea of slipping a flattened disk of dough graced with a topping into a hot oven and baking it quickly is amazingly simple, and many people must have come up with it independently. Indeed, in a recent post to It.Hobby.Cucina, the Italian general cooking newsgroup, RoDante da Fano traces its origins from Ancient Egypt to Imperial Rome, where there were a number of different kinds of flat baked breads with a variety of sweet or salty toppings, and goes on to say that the descendents of these proto-pizzas were common throughout the peninsula in the 1700s. In 1835, he continues, Alexandre Dumas noted in his diary that "in Naples pizzas are flavored with oil, lard, tallow, cheese, tomato, or anchovies…" Other chroniclers listed other common toppings, also noting that pizza was a cheap food that Neapolitans ate for breakfast or lunch, and in the 1870s a Neapolitan pizzaiolo created the Margherita, which he named after Italy's beautiful queen, by sprinkling a few fresh basil leaves over a pizza topped with mozzarella and tomato -- red, white and green, the national colors. The Margherita is still the most popular pizza today, perhaps because it's simple, light and tasty. It's also, in some ways, a better foil for the pizzaiolo's skill than some of the pizzas with more elaborate toppings, because what little there is has to be perfect: Well-risen well-turned dough; mozzarella di bufala, made from the water buffaloes that are raised around Naples; good light tomato sauce; good extra virgin olive oil; and fresh basil. Ideally it should be baked in a wood-fired oven, whose hot floor will rapidly crisp the dough. At home, a pizza stone can take the place of the terracotta floor of the wood-fired oven, and one can substitute the mozzarella di bufala with mozzarella fiordilatte made from cow's milk (as do most Italian pizzerias). The important thing is that you use good quality ingredients, and make your pizza with care. ******************

641.5

K.Rajshekhar.

November- 04.

No.23 (02) BSc H& HA.

Page 3 of 3

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