History of Italian pizza

Did pizza originate in italy!

The history of Italian pizza dates back centuries and is deeply rooted in the country’s culture. Although the exact origins of pizza are difficult to determine, there is evidence that a primitive form of pizza was already consumed in ancient Rome.

However, the closest version of what we know as pizza nowadays emerged in the city of Naples, Italy.

In the sixteenth century, pizza was a popular dish among the poor inhabitants of Naples. It was a kind of flattened “bread,” topped with simple ingredients such as tomatoes, garlic and olive oil.

It is believed that the addition of tomato to pizza occurred in the seventeenth century, after the arrival of this fruit in Europe from the Americas.

However, pizza really came to prominence in the late nineteenth century when Italian King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889.

Legend has it that they got tired of eating fancy food and asked to try the local pizza. The pizzaiolo (pizzaiolo is the name given to the Italian pizzaiolos masters) Raffaele Esposito was in charge of preparing the pizzas and created three different varieties.

One of these pizzas, known as “Pizza Margherita,” was named after Queen Margherita. It was topped with ingredients that represented the colors of the Italian flag: tomato sauce (red), buffalo mozzarella (white) and basil (green).

The queen loved the Margherita pizza, and so the fame of Naples pizza spread quickly throughout the country.

The Neapolitan pizza

Neapolitan pizza is a traditional style of pizza originating in the city of Naples in the Campania region of Italy. It is considered one of the most authentic and classic forms of Italian pizza.

Neapolitan pizza is known for its soft, elastic dough, high, crispy edge, and simple, fresh ingredients. It is usually made with type 00 wheat flour, water, salt and fresh yeast. The dough is mashed and left to ferment for a minimum of 8 to 24 hours, which gives the pizza its light texture and characteristic flavor.

The traditional Neapolitan pizza topping consists of tomato sauce, buffalo mozzarella or fior di latte (fresh cow’s milk cheese), extra virgin olive oil and fresh basil leaves. Other ingredients can be added, such as garlic, anchovies, cherry tomatoes or Parmesan cheese, but simplicity is valued in this style of pizza.

A distinctive feature of Neapolitan pizza is its fast cooking time in an extremely hot wood-fired oven, which should reach temperatures of around 485°C to 510°C.  The pizza is cooked in a few minutes, resulting in a slightly charred base, known as a “leopard” due to its pattern of dark spots.

The Association Verace Pizza Napoletana (AVPN) was founded in Naples in 1984 with the aim of preserving and promoting the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza. The strict guidelines for the production and certification of Neapolitan pizza were created by AVPN. These guidelines include the use of specific ingredients, preparation methods, and cooking time.

Neapolitan pizza received the status of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2017, recognizing its cultural and traditional importance.

In summary, Neapolitan pizza is a classic style of Italian pizza, appreciated for its soft, elastic dough, simple topping, and authentic flavor. It is a true icon of Naples cuisine and Italian gastronomy as a whole.

History of Italian pizza in the United States

The history of Italian pizza in the United States dates back to the late nineteenth century, when there was a great wave of Italian immigration to the country. Italian immigrants brought with them their traditional cuisine, including pizza, and introduced it to Italian-American communities.

The first pizzeria is believed to have opened in New York around 1905, in the region known as Little Italy, by Italian immigrant Gennaro Lombardi.

Lombardi sold pizzas in his bakery and soon the demand grew, leading him to open a pizzeria dedicated exclusively to this dish.

In the beginning, pizza was predominantly consumed by the Italian community and other immigrants. However, their popularity began to gradually expand beyond these ethnic groups.

During World War II, American soldiers who had been in Italy returned home with a love of pizza and helped popularize it among Americans.

After the war, pizza began to spread throughout the country as more Italian immigrants opened pizzerias and demand continued to grow.

In the 1950s and 1960s, pizza became a popular food throughout the United States, driven by the expansion of the fast food industry and the growing influence of Italian culture in the country.

Over time, new styles of pizza were developed to suit American tastes. New York-style pizza, known for its large, thin slices, and Chicago-style pizza, famous for its thick, crispy dough, are two examples of these regional styles.

Currently, pizza is a widely consumed food in the United States and there is a wide variety of styles and flavors available.

In addition to traditional pizza establishments, many fast food chains and restaurants specializing in pizza delivery have also become popular across the country.

Italian pizza has established itself as an enduring element in American cuisine.

Buon appetito!

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