Special cuisine around the world (P.19) – Pizza: The Italian’s pride of the culinary quintessence

14-11-2020

(WorldKings.org) When most of us think of Italian cuisine, we’re thinking about pizza. When 9 out of 10 people talk about going out for Italian then mean they want to eat pizza. Although there are many countries that are known for their national dishes, there are very few that have created an international favorite. When you are in Italy you will find that there are two dishes which are the most popular – definitely pizza and pasta.

Interestingly pizza did not actually get its start in Italy. Pizza in its most basic form as a seasoned flatbread has a long history in the Mediterranean. Several cultures including the Greeks and Phoenicians ate a flatbread made from flour and water. The dough would be cooked by placing on a hot stone and then seasoned with herbs. The Greeks called this early pizza plankuntos and it was basically used as an edible plate when eating stews or thick broth. It was not yet what we would call pizza today. These early pizzas were eaten from Rome to Egypt to Babylon and were praised by the ancient historians Herodotus and Cato the Elder.

By the Middle Ages, these early pizzas started to take on a more modern look and taste. The peasantry of the time used what few ingredients they could get their hands on to produce the modern pizza dough and topped it with olive oil and herbs. The introduction of the Indian Water Buffalo gave pizza another dimension with the production of mozzarella cheese. Even today, the use of fresh mozzarella di buffalo in Italian pizza cannot be substituted.

The introduction of tomatoes to Italian cuisine in the 18th and early 19th centuries finally gave us the true modern Italian pizza. Even though tomatoes reached Italy by the 1530’s it was widely thought that they were poisonous and were grown only for decoration. However, the innovative (and probably starving) peasants of Naples started using the supposedly deadly fruit in many of their foods, including their early pizzas. Since that fateful day, the world of Italian cuisine would never be the same, however, it took some time for the rest of society to accept this crude peasant food.

Once members of the local aristocracy tried pizza they couldn’t get enough of it, which by this time was being sold on the streets of Naples for every meal. As pizza popularity increased, street vendors gave way to actual shops where people could order a custom pizza with many different toppings. By 1830 the “Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba” of Naples had become the first true pizzeria and this venerable institution is still producing masterpieces.

According to samuirestaurantguide.com and lifeinitaly.com


Mihan (Collect and edit) (World Records Union - WorldKings.org)

 

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