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History of Pizza

PizzaPizza is a type of bread and dish that has existed since time immemorial in Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisine. By 997 the term had appeared in Medieval Latin, and in 16th century Naples a Galette flatbread was referred to as a pizza.

The pizza was a baker's tool: a dough used to verify the temperature of the oven.  A dish of the poor people, it was sold in the street and was not considered a kitchen recipe for a long time.  Before the 17th century, the pizza was covered with white sauce.

This was later replaced by oil, cheese, tomatoes (after the discovering of America) or fish. In 1843, Alexandre Dumas described the diversity of pizza toppings. In June 1889, to honor the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan chef Raffaele Esposito created the "Pizza Margherita," a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and basil, to represent the colors of the Italian flag. He was the first to add cheese.

The sequence through which flavored flatbreads of the ancient and medieval Mediterranean became the dish popularized in the 20th century is not fully understood.

Origins
Foods similar to pizza have been prepared since the Neolithic age. Records of people adding other ingredients to bread to make it more flavorful can be found throughout ancient history.

In Sardinia, French and Italian archeologists have found a kind of bread baked over 3,000 years ago. According to Professor Philippe Marinval, the local islanders leavened this bread.

The Ancient Greeks had a flat bread called plakous (πλακοῦς, gen. πλακοῦντος - plakountos) which was flavored with toppings like herbs, onion, and garlic.

It is said that soldiers of the Persian King, Darius the Great (521-486 B.C.) baked a flat bread on their shields and then covered it with cheese and dates.

In the 1st century BC, the Latin poet Virgil refers to the ancient idea of bread as an edible plate or trencher for other foods in this extract from his Latin poem, the Aeneid:

These flatbreads, like pizza, are from the Mediterranean area and other examples of flat breads that survive to this day from the ancient Mediterranean world are focaccia (which may date back as far as the Ancient Etruscans), coca (which has sweet and savory varieties) from Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, the Greek Pita or Pide in Turkish or Piadina in the Romagna part of Emilia-Romagna in Italy.

Similar flat breads in other parts of the world include the Indian Paratha, the South Asian Naan, the Sardinian Carasau, Spianata, Guttiau, Pistoccu, the Alsatian Flammkuchen and Finnish Rieska.

Innovation
The innovation that gave us the flat bread we call pizza was the use of tomato as a topping. For some time after the tomato was brought to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century, it was believed by many Europeans to be poisonous (as are some other fruits of the nightshade family). However, by the late 18th century, it was common for the poor of the area around Naples to add tomato to their yeast-based flat bread, and so the pizza was born.

The dish gained in popularity, and soon pizza became a tourist attraction as visitors to Naples ventured into the poorer areas of the city to try the local specialty.
Until about 1830, pizza was sold from open-air stands and out of pizza bakeries. Pizzerias keep this age-old tradition alive today. It is possible to enjoy pizza wrapped in paper and a drink sold from open-air stands outside the premises.

Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba in Naples is widely regarded as the city's first pizzeria. It started producing pizzas for peddlers in 1738 but expanded to a pizza restaurant with chairs and tables in 1830. It still serves pizza from the same premises today.

A description of pizza in Naples around 1830 is given by the French writer and food expert Alexandre Dumas in his work Le Corricolo, Chapter VIII. He writes that pizza was the only food of the humble people in Naples during winter and that "in Naples pizza is flavored with oil, lard, tallow, cheese, tomato, or anchovies."

The Neapolitans take their pizza very seriously. Purists, like the famous pizzeria “Da Michele” in Via C. Sersale (founded 1870), consider there to be only two true pizzas — the Marinara and the Margherita — and that is all they serve. These two "pure" pizzas are the ones preferred by many Italians today.

The Marinara is the older of the two and has a topping of tomato, oregano, garlic and extra virgin olive oil. It is named “Marinara” not because it has seafood on it (it doesn't) but because it was the food prepared by "la marinara", the seaman's wife, for her sea faring husband when he returned from fishing trips in the Bay of Naples.

The Margherita, topped with modest amounts of tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and fresh basil is widely attributed to baker Raffaele Esposito. Esposito worked at the pizzeria "Pietro... e basta così" (literally "Peter... and that's enough") which was established in 1880 and is still operating under the name "Pizzeria Brandi." In 1889, he baked three different pizzas for the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen's favorite was a pizza evoking the colors of the Italian flag — green (basil leaves), white (mozzarella), and red (tomatoes). This combination was named Pizza Margherita in her honor.

"Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana" ("True Neapolitan Pizza Association"), which was founded in 1984 and only recognises the Marinara and Margherita verace, has set the very specific rules that must be followed for an authentic Neapolitan pizza. These include that the pizza must be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven at 485°C for no more than 60 to 90 seconds; that the base must be hand-kneaded and must not be rolled with a pin or prepared by any mechanical means (i pizzaioli — the pizza makers — make the pizza by rolling it with their fingers) and that the pizza must not exceed 35 centimetres in diameter or be more than one-third of a centimetre thick at the centre. The association also selects pizzerias all around the world to produce and spread the verace pizza napoletana philosophy and method.


There are many famous pizzerias in Naples where these traditional pizzas can be found like Da Michele, Port'Alba, Brandi, Di Matteo, Sorbillo, Trianon and Umberto (founded: 1916). Most of them are in the ancient historical centre of Naples. These pizzerias will go even further than the specified rules by, for example, only using "San Marzano" tomatoes grown on the slopes of Mount Vesuvius and only drizzling the olive oil and adding tomato topping in a clockwise direction.

The pizza bases in Naples are soft and pliable. In Rome they prefer a thin and crispy base. Another popular form of pizza in Italy is "pizza al taglio" which is pizza baked in rectangular trays with a wide variety of toppings and sold by weight.

In December 2009, the pizza napoletana was granted Traditional Specialty Guaranteed status by the European Union.

Pizza in the United States
See also: Pizza in the United States
Pizza first made its appearance in the United States with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century. This was certainly the case in cities with large Italian populations, such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia where pizza was first sold on the streets of Italian neighborhoods.

In late 19th century Chicago for example, pizza was introduced by a peddler who walked up and down Taylor Street with a metal washtub of pizzas on his head, selling his wares at two cents a chew. This was the way pizza used to be sold in Naples, in copper cylindrical drums with false bottoms that were packed with charcoal from the oven to keep the pizzas hot. It wasn't long until small cafes and groceries began offering pizzas to their Italian-American communities.


The first printed reference to "pizze" served in the US is a 1903 article in the Boston Journal. The first "official" pizzeria in America is generally believed to have been founded by Gennaro Lombardi in Little Italy, Manhattan. Gennaro Lombardi opened a grocery store in 1897 which later was established as the first pizzeria in America in 1905 with New York's issuance of the mercantile license. An employee of his, Antonio Totonno Pero, began making pizza for the store to sell that same year.

The price for a pizza was five cents but, since many people couldn't afford the cost of a whole pie, they would instead say how much they could pay and they were given a slice corresponding to the amount offered.  In 1924, Totonno left Lombardi's to open his own pizzeria on Coney Island called Totonno's. While the original Lombardi's closed its doors in 1984, it was reopened in 1994 just down the street and is run by Lombardi's grandson.

Pizza was brought to the Trenton area of New Jersey very early as well, with Joe's Tomato Pies opening in 1910, followed soon by Papa's Tomato Pies in 1912. In 1936, De Lorenzo's Tomato Pies was opened. While Joe's Tomato Pies has closed, both Papa's and Delorenzo's have been run by the same families since their openings and remain among the most popular pizzas in the area.

Frank Pepe Pizzeria Napoletana in New Haven, Connecticut, was another early pizzeria which opened in 1925 (after the owner served pies from local carts and bakeries for 20–25 years) and is famous for its New Haven style Clam Pie. Frank Pepe's nephew Sal Consiglio opened a competing store, Sally's Apizza, on the other end of the block, in 1938. Both establishments are still run by descendants of the original family. When Sal died, over 2,000 people attended his wake, and the New York Times ran a half-page memoriam. The D'Amore family introduced pizza to Los Angeles in 1939.

Before the 1940s, pizza consumption was limited mostly to Italian immigrants and their descendants. The international breakthrough came after World War II. Allied troops occupying Italy, weary of their rations, were constantly on the lookout for good food. They discovered the pizzeria, and local bakers were hard-pressed to satisfy the demand from the soldiers. The American troops involved in the Italian campaign took their appreciation for the dish back home, touted by "veterans ranging from the lowliest private to Dwight D. Eisenhower".

According to an article in American Heritage Magazine, the modern pizza industry was born in the Midwestern United States.  Ric Riccardo pioneered what became known as the Chicago-style deep dish pizza when, in 1943, he and Ike Sewell opened Pizzeria Uno in Chicago. Others might argue that the "modern pizza industry" began with the birth of Pizza Hut in Wichita, Kansas in 1958.

In 1948, the first commercial pizza-pie mix — ‘Roman Pizza Mix‘ — was produced in Worcester, Mass., by Frank A. Fiorillo.

The introduction of a 1957 broadcast on Canadian television documents the dawn of pizza's North American success:

Good afternoon, I’m Mrs. Brady. Today, I’m going to make a popular Italian dish, pizza pie. You’ve all probably heard about it; and if you’d like the recipe, please get a pencil and paper and then you can take it down as I go.
Pizza pie is becoming very popular, especially down in the States. There are some restaurants that even specialize in it. These are called pizzerias; and Saturday night, if you drive down, you can see cars lined up for miles, waiting for their pizza.
Pizza pie is composed of three parts. First, there is a base, which is usually a biscuit or a yeast dough. This is covered with a tangy tomato sauce, sprinkled with oregano, and then topped with nippy cheese.

With pizza's rising popularity chain restaurants moved in. Leading early pizza chains were Shakey's Pizza, founded in 1954 in Sacramento, California, Pizza Hut, founded in 1958 in Wichita, Kansas, and Josey's Pizza founded in Newnan, Georgia in 1943. Later entrant restaurant chains to the dine-in pizza market were Bertucci's, Happy Joe's, Monical's Pizza, California Pizza Kitchen, Godfather's Pizza, and Round Table Pizza.

Today, the American pizza business is dominated by companies that specialize in pizza delivery, such as Domino's, Brooklyn Pizzeria, Papa John's Pizza, Giordano's Pizza, Pizza Ranch, Mazzio's, and Godfather's Pizza. Pizza Hut has shifted its emphasis away from pizza parlors and toward home delivery. Another recent development is the take-and-bake pizzeria, such as Papa Murphy's.

Etymology
The first recorded use of the word "pizza" dates from 997 AD and comes from a Latin text from the town of Gaeta in southern Italy. The origins of the word are uncertain and disputed. The following are seven theories of its derivation:

The Ancient Greek word πικτή (pikte), "fermented pastry", which in Latin became "picta", and Late Latin pitta > pizza. See Greek pitta bread and Apulia and Calabria cuisine "Pitta"

The Ancient Greek word πίσσα (pissa, Attic πίττα, pitta), "pitch", or ptea, "bran", (pétítés, "bran bread").

The Latin word “pinsa”, the past participle of the verb “pinsere” which means to pound or to crush and may refer to the flattening out of the dough.

The Latin word “picea” which describes the blackening of bread in the oven or the black ash that gathers at the bottom of the oven.

The Italian word “pizzicare” meaning “to pluck” and refers to pizza being “plucked” quickly from the oven (“Pizzicare” was derived from an older Italian word "pizzo" meaning “point”).
The Aramaic word “pita” (as פיתא) which exists in the Babylonian Talmud, referring to bread in general, tracing the word to a cognate for pine pitch, which forms flat layers that may resemble pita bread.

The Old High German word “bizzo” or “pizzo” meaning “mouthful” (related to the English words “bit” and “bite”) and was brought to Italy in the middle of the 6th century AD by the invading Lombards. This is the origin favored by the Oxford English Dictionary though they state that it remains unattested.

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