That Flatbread That Became A Meal: Pizza
By | December 25, 2018
Pizza is a food that is loved by most people, whether Italian or not. Convenient for movie night or any night when cooking is not an option, pizza is easy whether ordering it to be delivered or popping into the oven.
Pizza goes way back with the earliest known pizza to be from the island of Sicily. What was left of old flattened bread was found by archaeologists who believed it to be about 3,000 years old as well as a tool for manufacturing it. From the ruins of the city of Pompeii that was caused by a volcano, archaeologists have been able to find numerous signs of the previous existence of pizza in the Roman Empire. Among the discoveries were street stands where they sold pizza and bakeries, along with the equipment, that they used. In early historical writings, pizza is mentioned by Darius the Great. Included in these writings are accounts of his soldiers baking flattened bread on their shields and covered with cheese. In the Roman Empire, and in particular, Naples and Pompeii, pizza was very popular as their regular daily meals. Other writings go on to say that they were very good at the skill of making these flattened bread pizzas, to which they would afterward add different toppings.
When tomatoes arrived from the new world, it became another ingredient that increased the popularity of pizza. It was in Naples where local cooks first began using tomatoes in their toppings. Naples, founded around 600 B.C., was an independent kingdom by the 1700-1800s and was full of the poor working class. Because they were the working class, they required inexpensive food and food that they could eat rather quickly. Flat-breads or “pizza” served that purpose and also provided various types of toppings including tomatoes, cheese, garlic, oil, and anchovies.
As a popular tourist location, many European, as well as Italian sailors, visited the city. The wealthy of the city were actually the minority but in 1889, Queen Margherita wanted to visit the city so she and King Umberto I paid them a visit. According to legend, she had become bored with eating the rich food of French cuisine. She asked for a variety of pizzas from Pizzeria Brandi that was located in the city. The Pizzeria Brandi was founded in 1760. It turns out that her favorite was pizza mozzarella which had toppings of white cheese, green basil, and red tomatoes. According to the story, that particular combination of pizza was then called pizza Margherita, which accounted for the pizza popularity in Italy.