The ingredients that are the basis of the pizza as a culinary dish have their roots firmly founded in the sunny climate of Southern Italy around the city of Naples. This was historically a Greek colony rather than Italian. Pizza is first mentioned in Roman literature around the 3rd century by Cato the Elder who records a flat and round piece of dough that was dressed with a combination of olive oil, herbs and flour with cheese and honey. This was cooked upon stones, according to translation. Pompeii, the infamous doomed city that was devoured by the ash and smoke of Mount Vesuvius, also had the remains of several buildings resembling modern pizzerias.
Roman Pizzas Pizzas back in Roman times were very little like modern day pizza in the least. The bread would have been more likened to the modern focaccia bread still popular in Italy and around the world, and tomatoes weren’t known to them as they were not imported from the Americas until centuries later. Instead it is recorded that pigs blood and honey were popular pizza toppings, a pretty horrible thought in today’s times!
Pizza Following the Introduction Of Tomatoes Tomatoes originated in the Americas and were brought to Europe in the 16th century. For a long time the European public was nervous of the tomato thinking it to be in some way poisonous! However, by the 18th century the poor areas of Naples in Italy began using them to bulk up their bread and to add flavour. This was the humble beginning of the modern day pizza. It became popular for visitors to Naples to venture into the poorer districts in order to try out the local’s new dish.
The Pizzeria Emerges The popular way to sell pizzas before the 1830’s had been by means of street stands outside of or near to the pizza bakeries. Naples, not surprisingly, saw the very first pizzeria. It was called Antica Pizzeria Port’ Alba. It was described in those days as the food of the humble people in Naples and consisted of bread, oil, tallow, lard, cheese, tomato or anchovies. Today’s pizza is very removed from those days and the choice of toppings is huge. Glad to say the use of tallow and lard have ceased down at your local pizzeria!
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