Pizza is one of the most popular foods in the world and is considered one of the basic Italian dishes. It is eaten in just about every country in the world and in copious quantities as well, but one question that often crops up is whether pizza is really Italian at all.
It is beyond reasonable doubt that pizza did spread to the world from Naples, Italy. There, somebody had the idea to take a traditional flat bread and top it with a tomato sauce and cheese, the basic ingredients of pizza. There it was enjoyed by folks of modest means, sailors, from which the word ‘marinara’ comes, and many others who sought a filling, inexpensive meal.
However, the origins of many aspects lay much further back. The flatbread itself is probably the product of Greece. It was not a far journey for the sailors of that ancient land to cross the Mediterranean to southern Italy. Pizza traveled well on the voyage and they brought their recipes with them to their neighbor to the north.
Tomatoes were brought to Italy by sixteenth century Spanish explorers, returning from the New World. During that century, this red fruit (‘vegetable’ is a culinary term, not a scientific one) was looked on with amazement, but not thought of as edible. Eventually, some unknown clever chef had the idea of mashing and cooking it.
The first known pizzeria, still in operation today, opened its doors in 1830 in Naples. Before long, visitors ran the gamut of poor sailors and royalty. At the time, it was common for young male aristocrats to enter the Navy as officers. That brought them into contact with the ‘marinara’.
During the 19th century, pizza spread with the large immigration of Italians to America, England, and elsewhere. Naturally, the innovation literally and figuratively piled on to this dish took off rapidly. As far back as 1870, it was common to add oregano, basil, olives, and other toppings to the new country’s favorite Italian food.
Near the end of the 19th century the Italians themselves kept changing the dish. In Bologna, the city in the north from which we get the name for that meat, they added their namesake topping. It soon became a favorite of the Queen.
Since pizza remains a favorite around the globe, what is that makes it so enjoyable. Why not find out and make your own – from the dough upwards!
Neapolitan Pizza Recipe
First the dough for the Pizza base
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp sugar
1 tbsp yeast
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil
Microwave the water for 1 minute and set aside. Pour the flour into a medium-sized bowl (you want to have a good sized mound) and mix with sugar and salt. Then make a small valley in the center. Into the valley, pour the yeast. Then pour on the water slowly and top with olive oil. Let it rest a minute, then mix thoroughly. Knead and roll flat on a large board.
Now, onto the pizza itself
Pizza dough (from above, or prepared)
One 14 oz can Italian tomatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
Two large cloves garlic
2 tbsp dried oregano
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 cups Mozzarella cheese
Grate the Parmesan and slice the Mozzarella. Crush the garlic. Dice half the tomatoes finely and puree the rest for 30 seconds in a blender. Spread tomato sauce, then the tomatoes onto the dough, and then top with cheeses and spices.
The results turn out best when you have a large brick oven. If not, make do with an ordinary one. Cook at 450F/230C for about 10-15 minutes.
Finally, sit down and eat while still hot – Enjoy!