While pizza is generally known to be a classic Italian food, it has gone through quite the evolution to become the pie that we know and love today. Some historians argue that the origins of pizza can be dated back to the Roman Empire and other ancient cultures. Take a look at a condensed survey of how pizza, became the delight it is today.
Roman Empire – Cultures within the Mediterranean all had different flatbread recipes. Many of the cultures would eat their flatbreads topped with olive oil and herbs. Some would eat them with fresh cheeses such as feta. While this is very different from what we think of as pizza, the dish came out of these flatbreads.
1830 – The first Pizzeria, Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, opened in Naples. Before this point, pizza was generally thought of as “peasant food”, where the poor would add tomatoes to their flatbread.
1889 – The next big development in Pizza happened in Naples. It is generally believed that the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned baker Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of Queen Margherita who was visiting Naples. Esposito crafted a pizza that was inspired by the Italian flag using tomato (red), basil (basil), and mozzarella. This has become a very popular kind of pizza; it was named “Margherita” after the queen.
1905-1939 – The first Pizzeria opened in the United States in 1905 in New York City. A number of pizzerias began within New York and New Jersey. Eventually the love of pizza moved up the east coast to Boston. The love of pizza did not really move elsewhere in the country until after World War II.
1945-1960 – After spending years fighting on the Italian Peninsula, American soldiers came back from the Italian Campaign with the desire of authentic Italian food and pizza. This new demand for pizza started a movement throughout the country. Chicago-style became popular throughout the Midwest and many different types of pizzerias became popular throughout the country.
During this time, pizza became the dish that we know it to be today. It became a classic American food. The pizza became cheesier and meatier. Pizza was the perfect choice for a family meal, because it was supposed to be shared with others. They could also be customized for your family’s tastes and desires.
Post 1960 – Pizza chains began to open, making it even more convenient for families to receive a pizza. However, with the added convenience, much of the art of carefully crafted pizza was lost. The chains did not use quality sauces or ingredients. However, of recent years, families have begun to realize the difference between the chains and independent pizzerias and have begun to enjoy the quality of a handcrafted pizza.
Pizza has gone through quite the journey to get to your dining room table. Its story spans centuries and continents. So, enjoy your delicious plate of cheesy goodness topped with meats and vegetables. Next time you get the chance to eat a nice slice of pizza, appreciate its history and how it became the little bit on Italy that you can taste at any time.