Society

The History of Pizza

A 10th century Latin manuscript from Gaeta in Central Italy first recorded the term "pizza."

Pizza is an incredibly popular food found worldwide. Pizza can be sold fresh or frozen, and as whole or in pieces. It is a popular fast food item, especially in Europe and North America. Pizza is so popular in some parts of the world such as the United States that an entire month is dedicated to the honouring of the food item. In the US and parts of Canada, National Pizza month is observed in October with pizza lovers consuming different types of pizza and visiting various pizzerias during this time. In some countries like Kenya, a specific day of the week is dedicated to promoting pizza with pizzerias offering extra pizzas or pizza slices.

What Is Pizza?

Pizza is a type of food made from flat, round yeast bread that is usually topped with tomato sauce and cheese. It is then topped with a selection of meats, vegetable, and condiment. Pizzas come in different flavors depending on the type of meat used in preparing it. Pizzerias also offer non-meat pizza for vegetarians and for those on a diet. Pizza can be prepared fresh or frozen. The preparation of pizza has evolved with several other ingredients included and modified to make the best flavor. Pizzerias also offer some form of uncooked pizza that can be baked at home. Some stores also sell dough and basic ingredients to be completed at home before it can be baked in an oven. In Pizzerias, pizzas are baked in an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven, or a brick oven. The dough and the ingredients can be mixed on any type of table. For commercial baking of pizza, a standard and purpose built pizza preparation table is used.

Ancient Pizza

Foods that are similar to pizza have been prepared since the Neolithic age. Various cultures produced flatbreads with different toppings including vegetables and herbs. The ingredients were added to the bread to make it more flavorful. The ancient Greek topped their bread with oil, herbs, and cheese while the soldiers of the Persian army in the 6th century BC covered the flatbread with cheese and dates and used their shields to cook the bread. Ancient bread baked over 7,000 years ago was found in Sardinia. The bread had been leavened by the local islanders. It is likely that people have been putting things like cheese on bread since the existence of bread and cheese. However, many have argued that the ancient form of pizza was not truly pizza as it is today. The ingredients used in making the flat bread "pizza" varied from place to place. The flatbread may also have been used as a plate to hold other foods. Commentators have argued that the so-called pizzas were simple bread that took a round shape and those who made and consumed them treated them as bread and not as another food item altogether.

So Where Did The Word ‘Pizza’ Come From?

The word "pizza" was first used in a Latin publication in Gaeta which is in Southern Italy and was part of the Byzantine Empire. The text highlighted that an occupant of a property would the take 12 pizzas to the Bishop of Gaeta every Christmas Day and Easter Sunday. Pitta, a Latin word for pizza refers to flat bread baked in an oven at a high temperature with topping, and traces its origin from the ancient Greek word "pikte" which means "fermented pastry". The Lombardic word "pizzo" meaning mouthful was brought to Italy around 6th century and is thought to have influenced the wide use of the term ‘pizza’ in most parts of the world.

The Modern Pizza

The origin of the modern pizza is linked to pizzarelle which were used as Passover bread by the Roman Jews during the the Passover holiday. The modern pizza might have been made more than 2000 years ago according to the Abba Eban when the Roman Soldiers topped cheese and olive oil to matzah. In Europe, pies may have influenced the baking of pizza. A galette flatbread made in Naples in the 16th century was referred to as pizza. The Napoletana pizza was flat bread topped with tomatoes sauce and cheese. It was sold in the street as food for the poor and was not considered a kitchen recipe for a long time. However, soon eating pizza became a must-do activity for tourists who were visiting Naples, especially those who would access the less affluent parts of the town. In 1889, pizza Margherita was invented with Raffaele Esposito commissioned to make a pizza in honor of Queen Margherita. By 1927, several recipes had been developed with most recipes including tomatoes, cheese, and mozzarella.

Pizza In The United States

Pizza was brought into the United States by Italian immigrants at the dawn of the 20th century. The first recorded pizzeria in the US was opened in 1905 by Gennaro Lombari in New York City. By 1940s, the Pizzeria Uno in Chicago had introduced the deep dish pizza which accommodated a number of toppings. Pizza consumption took off in America after World War II. In the 1950s, pizza became noticed outside the Italian community. Chains of restaurants baking pizza sprang up leading to its popularity in the country. Several celebrities including Joe Di Maggio and Frank Sinatra were seen enjoying pizza publicly. Pizza soon rivaled burger as America’s favorite food

Largest Pizza Record

Although pizza sizes vary from small, medium, and large, extraordinarily large pizzas are being baked the world over. The largest ever baked pizza was prepared in Rome in 2012. The pizza, which measured 13,570 square feet, was made gluten-free and named Ottavia. The longest pizza ever made was baked in Naples in 2016 using series of a wheeled oven. The pizza measured 1.15 miles. The world’s most expensive pizza is available in Maze Restaurant in the UK costing 100 sterling pounds.

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