Modern pizza can be traced to Naples in the early 19th century, its story really dates to the flatbreads of the ancient Etruscans who settled in Italy in the 8th century BC.  

From archeological remains, we know that they made a sort of thick dough from ground grains, which was baked beneath hot ashes and then topped with seasoned oils, herbs, and other available ingredients. The Romans called these ash cakes, panus focus, which evolved into the Italian word, focaccia. 

Even the word pizza is older than our concept of modern pizza. Until the 19th century, the word was used to refer to any round-shaped breads and desserts, like ‘pizza di Pasqua’  (panettone-shaped cheesy Easter bread) and ‘pizza dolce teramana ‘ (a round, layered sponge cake traditional in Abruzzo).

In Pellegrino Artusi’s famed 1890s cookbook La Scienza in Cucina e l’Arte di Mangiar Bene (Science in the Kitchen and the Art of Eating Well) ) there are three recipes for pizza, all of them sweet. 

From at least the early 1500s, small round flatbreads topped with herbs and oil, referred to as pizza, were a popular street food in Naples. Later that century, after their introduction from the New World, tomatoes would top the pizza. 

This style was called pizza marinara (fisherman’s wife pizza), so named because it was traditionally prepared by a seaman’s wife upon his return from a fishing trip.

Antica Pizza Brandi opened in 1760 and has a plaque outside which reveals that it was where the margherita was invented in 1889. 

Chef of the restaurant at the time, Raffaele Esposito, created the dish in honour of the Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy.

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The recipe was also created for Italian unification and toppings symbolise this as they represent the colours of the flag- tomatoes (red), mozzarella (white) and basil (green).  

Toppings which were already used in Naples were mixed to create the pizza.  

The most commonly used toppings were recorded in 1866 by Francesco De Bourcard. 

These included: garlic, oil, salt, grated cheese, lard, basil, shellfish, mozzarella and tomato. 

 Source: La Cucina Italiana 




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