Pizza is a meal enjoyed by billions of people around the world, and it is one dish where you can create an almost endless list of varieties and flavours. You can choose from a thick crust, thin and crunchy crust, a signature tomato sauce, or top it with a variety of cheeses, meats, and vegetables. Pizza, as we know it today, is flat, round, topped, baked and cut into triangular sections or made in a rectangular shape and cut into squares. It wasn’t always like this, however. Pizza is one of the most popular dishes in the world, but where did it come from? Our local pizza caterers in Leicester tell us a little about the history from the origins to the delicious pizza hey serve today!
The Origins of the Pizza: From Greece to Italy
The ancient Greeks had a dish using a flat bread called plankuntos. This flatbread was made of a water and flour dough, and then topped with herbs, olive oil, various toppings and baked in a large oven. This dish was widely consumed by the ancient Greeks and brought to the city of Neopolis, also known as the Italian city of Naples. Naples was part of the Roman empire in antiquity, and the food became a popular choice for Neopolitan meals. In fact, during the excavation of this ancient city in modern times, large ovens, much like the pizza ovens of today, were found all over the city. The people used these ovens to cook the plankuntos.
The First Flat Pizza: Fit for a Queen
The popular belief that pizza was invented in Italy is only partially correct. When plankuntos made it’s way to Italy, it evolved into a more personalized dish through the years to come. The predecessor of the modern day pizza, one that we would recognize, today, was created in Naples for Queen Margherita of Savoy. She and King Umberto I visited Naples in 1889 on a tour and stopped in Pizzeria Brandi. There, chef Raffaele Esposito created a pizza with the colors of the flag of Italy. It was made with tomato to represent red, mozzarella for white and Basil for green. He then named it after the Queen, and we still enjoy it today as Margherita pizza.
The Role of the United States in this Italian Tradition
The United States also played a major role in the development of pizza, too. Roughly four million people were fleeing poverty stricken areas of southern Italy, and in 1905, a man by the name of Gennaro Lombardi obtained the very first license to sell pizza in the United States. Soon, the love of pizza spread throughout the United States, and chefs began creating their own unique versions of pizza. This paved the way for the almost 32 billion dollars modern pizza industry that we have today.
Pizza is enjoyed by many nations across the globe, from The United States and Europe to Asia and the Middle East. Pizza evolved from a humble flat bread topped with herbs and oil to the flavors of each nation who enjoy the dish today.