History Of Pizza
- ArticlesandContent.com (CIRCA 2005)
- Oct 8, 2021 (written 2005)
In the United States, there are few dishes more widely accepted and eaten with such fervor as the pizza. Where you like yours loaded with meat and cheese, or if you prefer an all vegetable set of toppings, there are pizzas available to suit everyone’s tastes.
It seems engrained that pizza is of Italian origin. This is likely not the case, although finding its true origins is a murky proposition. In fact there is no known first pizza; rather there are multiple theories on what was the foundation modern pizza was built on. There are those who say that modern pizza is descended from Middle Eastern pita bread. Another compelling argument seems that be that it started as either Matzo or Foccacia bread, both of which were eaten during the Roman Empire.
There are many other popular theories about who was the first to invent pizza and almost all of the ancient civilizations seem to have some desire to take this credit. What is known is that pizza stated out as a snack and not a meal. Early pizza was known to have been developed in Naples, Italy. These early pizza’s didn’t even have a tomato based sauce, due to the superstition that tomatoes were poisonous. It was in 1830 in Naples that the first pizza place was opened. It wasn’t until 1889 that a modern pizza was produced. In a visit by an Italian king and queen to Naples, a pizza maker made a pizza with the colors of the Italian flag, with tomatoes providing the red. Pizza was an instant success.
Pizza In America
It should be no surprise then, that it was Italian immigrants who brought pizza to America. The first American pizzeria was opened in 1905 and is still doing business today. It was some time, however, before the rest of America would learn to love pizza. It was confined almost entirely to Italian neighborhoods until World War II. As our troops conquered Italy, they started to get a taste for pizza. They brought this back with them when they returned from war and the pizza legacy was forever solidified. From that point on, pizza has been an ever growing part of the American cuisine, with pizza places popping up in all parts of country. This remains amazing given our propensity to fast food throughout the years and our newfound health food kick of today. Pizza remains strong despite these outside influences.
How Has Pizza Changed?
Pizza has changed a great deal on its trip from the old world to our dinner plates. That is to assume you use a plate when eating pizza. That famous pizza from Naples consisted of basil, tomato, and mozzarella cheese. This would be considered poor toppings by today’s standards and shows what a difference Americanization has had on the pizza pie. Today we can select from over a dozen in most cases and in some pizzerias even two dozen ingredients.
Some people even prefer their pizzas to be without any extra ingredients to get in the way and just order theirs with cheese. Regardless of what you put on top if, pizzas are all about the same under the hood.
They start with dough that is baked into a crust. For some this is the heart of the pizza, for many today, however, is simply a method of holding all of the ingredients in place. On top of the crust a sauce is then added. Most commonly this is a tomato based red sauce, filled with a variety of herbs and spices. One of the things that make all pizzas unique is that different pizza makers use different combinations of spices in their sauce. The ingredients come next and can range from any kind of meat and vegetable, even some fruit. This is what makes the pizza experience so personal. Deciding what flavors and textures your pizza will have makes it special for you yourself. Pizza is then typically covered with a healthy dose of Mozzarella cheese. This gives the white cheese the familiar white with brown toasted look that many would recognize as the top of the pizza.
Pizzas are so engrained in our society that we eat them all the time. Chain pizza places such as Pizza Hut® sells millions of pizzas every year. Most people will pass on the mass produced pizza in favor of one of the thousands of Pizzerias across the country. These are smaller, typically non corporation owned pizza places that make their pizza a little different than everyone else. This differentiation leads to a great deal of loyalty among pizza fans. Almost everyone has a favorite pizza place and very often no two people can agree on which is best. We consume so pizza so often that it has even taken to the supermarkets.
Frozen pizzas need only be tossed in the oven and can be found from dozens of different makers each with many different types of pizza available from each. Larger supermarkets have even started selling their own fresh pizzas in competition with the dedicated pizza place. Our love of pizza is so great that even with the recent healthy eating craze, pizza places continue to thrive. That there are very few pizzas that can be considered at all healthy sold by these places is a testament to our reluctance to give them up.