I PIZZAIOLO ' LET'S TALK PIZZA'
With ancient Greek and Roman clues to some kind of pizza dish served way back in the past perhaps the roots of the pizza will always remain obscured in the mists of time, but fortunately we do have a clearer story of the modern pizza. This is how it goes:
The pizza we all know and love today was born in Italy… Napoli to be precise, almost 30 years after Italian unification of 1861. It was June, 1889, and the king of Italy, Vittorio Emanuele II and his queen were on a nationwide tour of their newly unified and independent kingdom to meet the people and show off their reign.
The Neapolitans — who had suffered centuries of mistreatment under foreign rule — really wanted to impress the new king and queen, and celebrate the idea that they would be part of a unified country in which they would finally get equal and fair treatment.
So, being Neapolitans, they came up with the idea of creating an original culinary treat for their majesties, a dish that would reflect the newly adopted tricolour flag: green, white and red. They gave the mission to a famous local chef named Raffaele Esposito who proceeded to take three local and time-honoured ingredients from the Neapolitan kitchen for his new creation.
- Pita bread provided the White. The flat-baked pita had been in southern Italy for hundreds of years, probably brought back from the east by traders with the Arabs who themselves had inherited the pitta from the ancient Persians.
- Pomodoro, tomato sauce delivered the Red. Tomatoes arrived in Europe from the Americas after its ‘discovery’ by Spanish and Italian explorers like Amerigo Vespucci. In the south of Italy tomatoes are amazingly sweet and juicy thanks to the rich volcanic soil around Mount Vesuvius and the eternal southern sun.
- Mozzarella di bufala and basil gave Esposito the Green. Mozzarella is verry delicate cheese made from buffalo milk that, like a sponge, absorbs any flavour put on or next to it, like the basil leaf that Esposito used.
So Esposito put all these together, tossed it into a wood fired stone oven and presto, there was a unique dish fit for a king, made from local ingredients and resembling the nation’s new flag.
Needless to say, the king and his wife loved the dish and the thought put into it, and word spread as fast as market gossip first in Napoli and then through the kingdom of this new “Neapolitan start-up”, and everybody wanted to get a taste of the new dish. But what would they call it? Simple, name it after the queen of the new kingdom of Italy — Margherita.
Soon, people all across the country were asking for a piece of Margherita, or in Italian, asking for a ‘pezzo di Margherita’. Well it didn’t take long before this had evolved into Pizza Margherita — and there you have it, the pizza was born.
there is another presumption That maybe the name Pizza was derived from the basic dough, the Arabian Pita bread, and from the word ‘Pita’ it became ‘Pizza’ as it was easier for the Neapolitans to pronounce.
Like all good tales, this is just one version of the story, just as today Pizza Margherita is just one version of the pizza. We invite you to choose whichever version of the story you prefer — and whichever style of pizza you love to eat!