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The history of the pizza begins in antiquity, going back even in the Neolithic.
It was in this historical period, in fact, that was discovered the agriculture and people starts to cultivate and cook spelled and cereals.
But we are only at the beginning of an history that has its roots in the stone age and , only after millennium, is becoming one of the most popular gastronomic product of the World!
Let’s now go over the various stages that have brought simple disks of cooked bread to become one of the major symbols of Italian excellence.
THE HISTORY OF THE PIZZA: FROM THE YEAST OF THE ANCIENT EGYPTES TO THE WHEAT OF ROMANS
Maybe anybody can imagine that a determinant role in the history of the origins of pizza is the role of ancient Egyptians.
In fact, it was the inhabitants of the Nile Valley who discovered yeast and, consequently, made the cereal doughs softer and tastier.
The leavening of the dough inevitably led to a further big step: that of spreading bread.
To cook and eat the “foremothers” of the pizza were the Romans, to whom we owe the introduction of the use of the current wheat, derived from a selection of different types of spelled.
The dough, born from the union of this particular compound, made up of grains of wheat milled with water and seasoned with salt and herbs, was then baked on the hearth: the end result was a cake, tasty and ideal to accompany food.
But is thank to the Roman another great invention: to use this round bread, which took the form of a real dish, as a container for the main dishes and particularly rich in seasoning.
Here the first round focaccia began to take on the appearance of the current pizzas.
But what was the word used to indicate this new gastronomic product that will chage forever the Italian kitchen and his history?
Even for the name’s origin of the one of the most ancient gastronomic dish is necessary to look in the past.
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, it was the Lombards who imported the German word “bizzo” or “pizzo” in the middle of the 6th century, which meant “bite”, “focaccia”.
But when the word “pizza” was used for the very first time to indicate a real focaccia?
WHEN AND WHERE APPEAR FOR THE FIRST TIME THE WORD “PIZZA”?
If you believe that the word “pizza” was coined in Naples simultaneously with the birth of the famous pizza Margherita you will be surprised to discover that this is not the reality.
To discover exactly the origins of the pizza you must know the first written attestations of the word ‘’pizza’’ go back even to the vulgar Latin of the 10th century A.D.
Unveiling the origin of one of the emblematic words of Italian excellence was a study conducted by Giuseppe Nocca, teacher and historian of food culture.
According to the Nocca study, the term “pizza” originates from a mill near the Garigliano river which, at present, divides Lazio from Campania.
In fact, this word appears for the first time in a notarial document, the “Codex Cajetanus” of 997 A.D., kept in the Cathedral of Gaeta.
The act had as the hire of a mill near the Garigliano river, within the text, it says that in addition to the rent, every Christmas and every Easter renters should also be paid to owners “duodecim pizzas”, 12 “pizzas”.
And here, for the first time, appears the term that from that year will indicate one of the most famous Italian dishes and that will return in other later documents: the word, in fact, returns in other acts of other Italian cities, such as Penne , Pesaro, L’Aquila and Rome.
FROM SIMPLE FOCACCIA TO THE FIRST PIZZAS “ALLA MASTUNICOLA”
The origins of the pizza as food actually recognized in all the world go back to the beginning of the seventeenth century, when, increasingly appreciated by the South of Italy’s population, a new recipe is born, which sees the basilica as the protagonist.
We are talking about the pizza called “alla Mastunicola”, prepared with lard, cheese, pepper and basil leaves.
The evolution of this simple recipe is the one will bring to the born of the real pizza.
But where pizza was born as we know it today?
We must wait for the second half of the eighteenth century, in fact, to see the union between pasta and tomato occurred in the Naples’ Kingdom: it was precisely from that moment that the pizza became very popular, both with the people and with the nobles, especially the Bourbons.
It’s said, in fact, that Ferdinando I di Borbone, in love with the tasty taste of pizza, had even intended to introduce it into the menu of the kingdom: to taste this delicious food to his wife Maria Carolina decided to cook them in the ovens of Capodimonte and to take to court the best pizza in Naples, Antonio Testa, who became chef of the kingdom.
The first pizzeria was born of course in Naples in 1830: we are talking about the historic “Pizzeria Port ‘Alba”, still in business today, which even became a meeting place for many intellectuals: just mention the names of Gabriele D’Annunzio, Salvatore Di Giacomo and Alexandre Dumas.
RAFFAELE ESPOSITO AND PIZZA MARGHERITA: AN INVENTION FIT FOR A QUEEN!
We’ve told about the origins, both historical and etymological, of one of the most famous and consumed foods in the world: but who invented pizza?
The most popular and accredited legend on the history of the most famous pizza, “Margherita” , is the one told by the history of Raffaele Esposito, owner of the Pizzeria Brandi, who in Jume 1889 proposed, at the invitation of royal officials, 4 types of pizzas to Queen Margherita di Savoia, wife of Umberto I.
It seems that, in the diverse and delicious proposals, the queen appreciated especially that seasoned with tomato, mozzarella and basil: ingredients that even resembled the colors of the Italian flag.
The other pizzas prepared for Margherita di Savoia were, in addition to Margherita: the historic “Mastunicola”, a seasoned with tomato, anchovies, garlic, oregano and oil and fried calzone with ricotta and cicoli.
But it was the one with mozzarella, tomato and basil to conquer the queen’s heart and to become a typical dish not only of the Neapolitan culinary tradition, but also of the Italian one, until becoming one of the most popular foods in the world.
PIZZA “HERITAGE OF HUMANITY”
An history do rich of tradition and historical memory could not end with a prestigious award: since 2017 Neapolitan pizza has become a Heritage Of Humanity, while the profession of pizza maker is recognized as true art.
The pizza is undoubtedly one of the most representative Italian excellences of the history and genius of our country, a veritable pride of our local tradition: a dish capable of summarizing, even in the colors, the essence of the tricolor.
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