Pizza what a passion

A short history of pizza

Pizza, an Italian food par excellence, has very ancient origins: different types of flatbreads and buns made from grains, water and sometimes yeast, baked in wood-fired ovens, were consumed even before Christ in Egypt, Greece and ancient Rome.

The word "pizza" is attested in use as early as early medieval times, probably derived from the Arabic "pita," a soft round flatbread. It does not yet indicate a precise food, but different types of flatbreads, sweet or savory, baked in different ways. At this time the Lombards, settling in southern Italy, brought with them herds of buffaloes, which would provide the milk with which to make mozzarella, the basic ingredient of today's pizza.

Before the discovery of America, this specialty was topped with lard, cheese, basil, garlic, pepper, and anchovies. Later, one with tiny fish also appeared, available to fishermen.

The tomato, without which we can hardly imagine pizza today, arrived in southern Italy from Peru in the 1500s, but we have to wait almost two centuries for it to be used to season pizza.

Beginning in the 1700s, pizza enters permanently into the daily habits and diet of Neapolitans: cooked in wood-fired ovens or fried in the open, it is brought directly to customers by a store boy who carries a small stove on his head to keep them warm. Toward the end of the century, the custom of consuming pizza also spread at the ovens where it was cooked. The first indoor pizzerias were born with the characteristic marble counter, the ingredients on display, the visible oven, the tables, and the window with the pizzas on display.
The first pizzeria of which we have certain information is the "Port'Alba" pizzeria, founded in 1830, later a haunt of famous artists and writers.

The widespread diffusion in the rest of Italy occurs in the post-World War II period and particularly in the 1960s, with southern immigration to the "industrial triangle" Turin-Milan-Genoa: first prepared in homes for private consumption, then spread outside with the opening of pizzerias, pizza became so successful that today there are more pizzerias in the North than in the South of Italy!

Today pizza is made and eaten all over the world, but it all started in Naples and all of it is renewed in a handful of flour, yeast, water and a lot of imagination.

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