Pizza – Its Place in History
These days we take the pizza for granted, but wait, how often do we remember this tasty and nutritional meal and consider where and when it first came to exist?
Being a basic season flatbread the pizza's roots could arguably be traced back to several Mediterranean cultures. The Greeks and the Phoenicians would cook their minds by putting it on a hot stone and flavoring it with herbs. The Greeks called this plankuntos and it perhaps more resembled focaccia than a modern-day pizza.
Some consider the word "pizza" was based on the Latin pinsa, meaning "flat bread". Archaeologists are even said to have found a preserved a Bronze Age version of the dish in the region of Veneto.
Mozzarella cheese came to be included in the dish with the introduction of Italy of the Indian Water Buffalo. The richness of the cheese that was produced from buffaloes' milk allows producers to use less of it to the same effect. It is also generally higher in minerals and protein than the more common cows' milk. Mozzarella di bufala remains even today today a favored ingredient for pizza enthusiasts.
The remaining vital ingredient of the modern pizza is of course the tomato. This was introduced to Europe from the Americas in the 16th century and was originally thought of as poisonous!
Whatever the origins of the season flatbread which constituates the pizza base – and variants have been found in Persia, Palestine and further into Asia as well in Greece and Phenicia (and obviously Italy) – that of the modern Margherita is not in doubt. The baker Raffaele Esposito worked at a pizzeria which was established in 1880 and still operates under the name "Pizzeria Brandi". In 1889 he baked a pizza that evoked the three colors of the Italian flag – basil (green), mozzarella cheese (white) and tomatoes (red) for the visit of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy. The Queen enjoyed the pizza so much that it was named in her honor.
There are countless pizza restaurants throughout the UK that carry on the proud Italian tradition of good nutritious toppings on a light seasoned base. And to this day, pizza continues to be just about the most popular food takeaway options for countless numbers of families each week.