Pizza, we’ve all had it but how did this fabulous meal come about? Pizza is a focaccia, or flat bread that has been prepared and eaten for at least a thousand years in various forms and garnished with herbs, cheese and olives.
Think of pitta bread and you have the historic food root and versions of it are found all over the Mediterranean from Greece to Bulgaria and have been prepared since the Neolithic age. Although you can find many types of pizzas around the Mediterranean and around the globe, it is in Naples, after the tomato was introduced into Italian cuisine in the 1500s that pizza first began to resemble what we think of as pizza today.
Naples is also where the first pizzerias opened, sold by street vendors and cooked on open wood fires and considered to be a dish for poor people.
An oft-recounted story holds that in June 1889, to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizza maker Raffaele Esposito created the Pizza Margherita, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil, to represent the colours of the Italian flag.
The pizza bases in Naples are soft and pliable but in Rome they prefer a thin and crispy base. Needless to say there is a great deal of competitive claim making about the best pizzas. There is even a “True Neapolitan Pizza Association”), which was founded in 1984, which set the very specific rules that must be followed for an authentic Neapolitan pizza. In 2009 the pizza Napolenta was granted ‘Traditional Specialty’ status by the EU. So you can see that pizza is a serious business.
Mass Italian emigration to the US in the early 1900s brought pizza to a new audience although it did not assume national status as an ‘American dish’ until after the second world war when returning veterans took their appreciation back home. Still today Chicagoan and New Yorkers assume the bragging rights to the best pizzas. But the Americans are correct when they say the deep dish pizza was invented in Chicago
Here at Tempio we are doing our bit to ensure that the reputation of a food staple that is simple and delicious is in good hands and looking around on a busy night confirms we are getting it right