It is well-known that pizza, before
arriving to our kitchen tables in its current
shape, went through numerous transformations
Mediterranean cultures are credited
with a discovery of this food specialty, as
many historical references describe a presence
of small-round-buttery bread, which resembles
the pizza of today, found in ancient Egypt,
Greece, and Rome.
Pizza could be referred to as
some variation of pita bread of Italian origin,
with thin crusty dough pasted with tomato sauce,
covered with cheese and other toppings, such
as ham, olives, spices, etc...
In regards to the origin of the
name “Pizza”, numerous theories exist: according
to some documented references, word “Pizza”
originates from ancient-Italian word for “top”,
which over time evolved into word “pizzicare”
and means “to pinch” or “to prick”.
In today’s world, pizza is consumed
world-wide and is found on the menus in many
It is perceived that Pizza was
originally developedby Phoenicians, Greeks,
or Romans, possibly even some other culture(s).
However, one thing is for certain: whoever developed
Pizza knew the secret of mixing flour with water
and baking it over hot rocks. According to one
of the numerous theories, pizza was a main nutritious
article in Stone Age.
It is believed that in the early
stages of the Persian kingdom, the soldiers
of Darius the Great (6,000 B.C.) baked pieces
of thin bread on their shields, and later covered
the bread with cheese and dates.
Traveling farther through history,
we arrive to a recipe book by culinary expert
Apicius, which gives us an inside peek into
Roman kitchen. In Apicius’ book of recipes there
is a mention of chicken meat, cheese, pepper,
oil, etc...(mainly ingredients found on today’s
Pizza), and many recipes are ended with instructions
to “insuper nive et infers”, which means - “cool
it off on snow and serve”.
In 1522, tomatoes arrive to Europe
from Peru. Tomatoes, in the beginning, were
considered as a poisonous plant. When the residents
of Naples added toma-toes to baked dough, first
simple pizza was made.
Today, tomato is considered an
integral ingredient in Mediterranean kitchen(s),
and is used in almost all existing pizza recipes.
In 17th century, pizza rapidly
expands in region of Naples, Italy. Special
chefs were employed for making pizza, and were
referred to as “pizzaioli”.
In 1889, while vacationing in
Naples, Umberto I, king of Italy, and his wife,
queen Margherita (princess of Savoy) invited
to their palace the most famous “pizzaioli”
(expert in pizza making), Rafael Esposito, in
order to taste his delicacies. For this special
occasion, Rafael made three different types
of pizza. Third pizza was topped with basil,
mozzarella, and tomatoes (colors that represent
Queen liked the third pizza the
most. In her honor, Rafael named his specialty
Towards the end of XIX century
on the street of Naples, pizza is sold for breakfast,
lunch and dinner. It is prepared on large baking
sheets, cut in large piecesand topped with mushrooms
and sweet basil. As pizza became more and more
popular, there was an increase in pizza stands
that made pizzas in various shapes and sizes,
and topped them to customer’s liking. Pizza
stands quickly grew into pizzerias, where people
could meet, eat, drink, and converse.
In the second half of the 19th
century, pizza, along with Italians, migrated
to the American continent. In Chicago, pizza
was made famous by street sellers that offered
potential customers, for only 2 cents, a chance
to taste the newest culinary invention.
Only in 1950s did the Americans
start to give more attention to the new culinary
specialty called Pizza. Famous celebrity of
Italian origin, such as Frank Sinatra and baseball
star Joe DiMaggio, were frequent visitors at
local pizzerias. “When the moon hits your eye
like a big pizza pie...” - lyrics from the Dean
Martin song that some credit for popularizing
pizza in America.
February 9th, worldwide, is celebrated
as the International Pizza Day. Guinness Book
of Records holds that the largest pizza was
made in Havana, Cuba and it measured around