History of pizza
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Although the word "pizza" was first documented in 997 AD in Gaeta and successively in different parts of Central and South Italy, the history of the dish itself is not very clear or well documented.
The term 'pizza' first appeared "in a Latin text from the southern Italian town of Gaeta in 997 AD, which claims that a tenant of certain property is to give the bishop of Gaeta 'duodecim pizze' ['twelve pizzas'] every Christmas Day, and another twelve every Easter Sunday".
The origins of the word are uncertain and disputed. Suggested etymologies include:
- 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 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 the entry notes that it is unattested.
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 archaeologists have found bread baked over 7,000 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.
Like pizza, these flatbreads are from the Odyssey area. Other examples of flatbreads 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. Lepinja or in the Balkans or Piadina in the Romagna part of Emilia-Romagna in Italy.
Similar to flat breads in other parts of the world include the Indian Paratha (in which fat is incorporated), the Central and South Asian Naan (leavened) and Roti (unleavened), the Sardinian Carasau, Spianata, Guttiau, Pistoccu and Finnish Rieska. Also worth note is that throughout Europe there are many similar pies based on the idea of covering flat pastry with cheese, meat, vegetables and seasoning such as the Alsatian Flammkuchen, German Zwiebelkuchen, and French Quiche.
In 16th century Naples a Galette flatbread was referred to as a pizza. Known as the dish for poor people, it was sold in the street and was not considered a kitchen recipe for a long time. This was later replaced by oil, tomatoes (after Europeans came into contact with the Americas) or fish. In 1843, Alexandre Dumas, père described the diversity of pizza toppings. An often recounted story holds that on 11 June 1889, to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created the "Pizza Margherita", a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the national colours of Italy as on the Italian flag.
Pizza is now a type of bread and tomato dish, often served with cheese. However, until the late nineteenth or early twentieth century, the dish was sweet, not savory, and earlier versions which were savory more resembled the flat breads now known as schiacciata. Pellegrino Artusi's classic early twentieth century cookbook, La Scienza in cucina e l'Arte di mangiar bene gives three recipes for pizza, all of which are sweet. However, by 1927, Ada Boni's collection of regional cooking includes a recipe using tomatoes and mozzarella.
The innovation that led to flat bread 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 began. 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 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. In Campania, Italy, 1889, Raffaele Esposito created pizza, in his restaurant Pizzeria di Pietro. This new invention was especially made for the arriving Italian king and queen, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita. He wanted to make a good first impression with his new discovered pizza. 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” because it was traditionally the food prepared by "la marinara", the seaman's wife, for her seafaring 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 "Pizzeria di Pietro" which was established in 1880. Though recent research casts doubt on this legend, the tale holds that, 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). According to the tale, this combination was named Pizza Margherita in her honor. Although those were the most preferred, today there are many variations of pizzas.
"Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana" ("True Neapolitan Pizza Association"), which was founded in 1984, 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; 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 1990 the world's largest pizza was made in South Africa at the Norwood supermarket, the pizza weighed 12.9 tons.
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 and was very popular among large Italian populations in New York City, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Saint Louis . In the late 19th century, pizza was introduced by peddlers who walked up and down the streets with a metal washtub of pizzas on their heads, selling their wares at two cents a chew. It was not long until small cafes and groceries began offering pizzas to their Italian-American communities.
The first printed reference to "pizza" served in the US is a 1904 article in the Boston Journal. Giovanni and Gennero Bruno came to America from Naples Italy in 1903 to introduce the Neopolitan Pizza. Vincent (Jimmy) Bruno (Giovanni's son) went on to open the first Pizzeria in "The Loop" in Chicago at 421 S. Wabash Ave, the Yacht Club. Gennaro Lombardi opened a grocery store in 1897 which was later established as the "said" 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 could not 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 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." Two entrepreneurs, Ike Sewell and Ric Riccardo, invented Chicago-style deep-dish pizza, in 1943. They opened their own restaurant on the corner of Wabash and Ohio, they wanted to invent pizza nobody’s ever heard of.
Chain restaurants sprang up with pizza's rising popularity. 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, 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.
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