Jan
04
2009

What are the origins of pizza?

Lovely, lovely pizza - courtesy flickr.com - CC-BY

Lovely, lovely pizza - courtesy Randy Son Of Robert - CC-BY

Well, forget that Italian thing.

We need to go way, way, back to ancient Egypt, Mesopotamia and even ancient Israel.

The ancients baked a flat bread which they topped with olive oil and spices, even meats and vegetables at times.

When the Persian Empire was at its height, it is said that the soldiers of Darius the Great (521-486 B.C.), because of their lengthy marches, baked a kind of flat bread upon their shields and then covered it with olive oil, cheese, and dates.

Modern pizza was created by an Italian baker named Raffaele Esposito.

When Italian King Umberto and Queen Margherita were touring Naples area in the late 1800s, to impress them and display his patriotism, Raffaele chose to top flat bread with food that would most closely represent the colors of Italy.  He used red tomato, white mozzarella cheese and green basil.

The Royal Couple were so impressed with the look and flavor that word quickly spread. The results were that the dish was so well received it became widely copied.  And, of course, during this time experiments with other toppings were a natural.

Today pizza has become global in popularity and in the United States, just as American as baseball and apple pie.

It is only because of its most recent iteration for the Italian Royal Family that is it considered an Italian dish.

The dish today known as pizza is as old as history itself.

For more information about Italian food.

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