No Longer ‘Just’ Spiced Flatbread
Pizza has become a worldwide sensation. Along with pasta, this makes two international food stars to have originated in Italy. Now you can find different types of pizza all across North America and the world. cheesy and thick, thin and crispy, loaded with toppings—pizza comes in all shapes and sizes.
True Italian pizza is unlike any other pizza in North America or the world. The recipe and ingredients may seem simple, but a true Italian pizza will really stand out against any other. Once you try authentic Italian pizza, you will understand the difference.
The term “pizza” is thought to be a derivative of “pinsa”—the Latin word for “flatbread,” although this is still a contested topic. The Mediterranean tradition of pizza as a seasoned flatbread has been around for a long time. Phoenicians and Greeks used flour and water to make a special type of flatbread that was seasoned after baking on a hot stone. It actually resembled focaccia bread of today more so than the pizza we are familiar with now. This bread was called “plankuntos” and would be used to hold other edible food items—stew or thick broth—like a plate that can also be eaten. “Pizza” has been enjoyed through history by Romans, Egyptians, Babylonian—and loved by famous historians like Cato the Elder and Herodotus.
There is a legend that suggests that the Jewish Matzoth inspired a Roman soldier, during the occupation of Palestine, to try to attempt to recreate the taste experience when he arrived back home. Archeological discoveries suggest that pizza existed in the Veneto region in the Bronze Age, as the lower class citizens of that time period would cook with whatever few items they could come by. This included homemade dough, olive oil, and herbs. The recipe was further improved when mozzarella cheese was invented sometime in the 12th century (approximately). Fresh mozzarella cheese, sometime in combination with other cheeses, is key to making an authentic Italian pizza experience.
Italian food began to incorporate tomatoes around the 18th-19th centuries. Tomatoes were a “decorative” plant when they first came to Italy in the 1530’s because many people thought they were poisonous. The desperation of the starving Naples peasants caused them to turn to these “deadly” plants for sustenance; thus, introducing the tomato into the regular Italian diet. Although shunned by the higher class at first, the popularity of pizza with tomato grew quickly as it began to be sold on every street, for every meal. This is when “customizable toppings” became a trend, as shops catering to the increased desire for this food item wanted to address every unique taste. The first “pizzeria” was the Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba in Naples around 1830.
“Pizza Margherita” was named after Queen Margherita after the pizza maker (“Pizzailo”) of Pizzeria Brandi customized a special pizza to match the colours of the Italian flag of that time: the white of mozzarella cheese, the red of tomatoes, and the green of fresh basil. This flavour was a favourite of the Queen—and the rest of the world soon followed. Different regions began experimenting with local ingredients to create their special combination of pizza toppings.
Traditional Italian pizza can be recognized by its round shape and the fact that it is cooked in a wood-burning stove. There are many different recognized types of pizza now, like Pizza Capricciosa (mushrooms, prosciutto, artichoke, olives, and boiled egg) or Pizza Pugliese (capers and olives). Neapolitan-style pizza (or “Pizza Verace Napoletana”) has ingredients and preparation instructions that are regulated by law! Everything is controlled, from making the dough, to what it contains, to where it is eaten (it must be eaten in the same place it was produced).
Pizza truly has a broad and interesting history, which is what makes it such a compelling dish to create and eat! At Pazzo Pazzo Italian Cuisine, we serve only the freshest pizza you can get your hands on it town and yes – we delivery too! Give us a call today to make your reservation or order delivery – but you have been warned – our pizza is extremely addicting!