History of Pizza
Pizza is the sort of food that you can now find just about anywhere in the world, even though its present form it started in Naples, Italy many years ago. At its most basic it is simple a round crust covered with tomato sauce and cheese – or sometimes, just a crust covered with tomato sauce – pizza has become many different things to many different people all across the earth.
If you go from one region of the planet to another, you'll come across all sorts of variety in flavor, texture, size, toppings, just about everything. One of the best kinds of pizza is Gainesville pizza. Some restaurants stick to the basic with things like cheese, sausage, onion, pepperoni, and that kind of thing. Other places branch out and include eggplant, potatoes, duck, lobster, foie gras – you name it, and you can get just about anything onto a pizza pie. Even once- "weird" toppings like pineapple have become the norm in the Untied States.
Ancient Greece looks to be the absolute farthest we can trace back the idea of the pizza. Long ago, Greeks used to cover special round, flat breads with all sorts of thing, like olive oils, herbs and spices, and of course, a variety of cheese. Around the same time, those in Rome enjoyed a dish called placenta (not the one you're thinking of!). That was made by taking thin piece of a particularly floury dough, covering it with cheese and honey, and flavoring it with bay leaves. That said, though, the absolute first dish that resembles pizza in its modern form came from Naples around a hundred years ago, and it was basically just a crust with tomato on it. Cheese was not even added until much later!
I know we talked already about the different kinds of pizza to be found all over the world – and it really is amazing what has been done with the dish since it's earliest origins. However, did you know that in Italy, there are three types of 'official' pizza, distinguished as 'guaranteed traditional specialty'? These certified pizzas are allowed to come in only three variants which are very specifically defined by the Gods of Pizzadom.
The first of the three types is Pizza marinara. This variant is made with garlic, tomato, oregano, and extra virgin olive oil. Notice that there's no cheese! However, most pizza joints in the real Naples also add basil to their sauces as well, although no arrests have been made yet.
The second of these three types is the Pizza Margarita. You've probably had this sort of pizza, or something like it, at one time or another. It is tasty variation enjoyed by many which uses tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, basil, and olive oil. Certified or not, this one's really good.
The last official type is the Pizza Margarita extra. This is just a different version of the pizza Margarita which uses a very special and particular type of cheese. So if you're honest with yourself, that really leaves two different real variations on what officials in Italy actually consider to be pizzas.
On top fitting this specific list of ingredients, actual pizza must also follow several more rules. The dough must formed by hand, without the use of a rolling pin or machine, and it can not be more than 3 millimeters thick. The product is to be baked for no less than 60 second and no more than 90 seconds in a 900 degree oven with an oak fire. Can you imagine those regulations? I wonder if there's a guy stationed in the restaurant with calipers, rules, and thermometers, getting in everyone's way.