Monday, February 12, 2007

History of Pizza

The actual term “pizza” begins to circulate in Italy for the first time in 997 in the Codex Cajetanus of Gaeta Italy.

The true “pizza napoletana” as it is understood in Naples is a disc of dough on which tomato is spread. This use of the term pizza was born after a specific historical event: the discovery in 1492 of the New World by Christopher Columbus. It was precisely the Genoese navigator who brought the tomato plant to Europe.

In 1596, the tomato plant was exported to Naples by Spain where it was used as an ornamental plant. The first historical indication of the use of the tomato in the kitchen is found in the “Cuoco Galante (Naples - Ed. Raimondiane 1733) by Vincenzo Corrado Oritano” head chef of Prince Emanuel of Francavilla. The same Corrado in a successive tract on the foods most commonly used in Naples declares that the tomato was used to top both pizza and pasta, thus grouping together these two traditional products which helped to make Naples’ culinary fortune and establish its place in the history of world cuisine. From this information, one can reconstruct the appearance of “pizza napoletana” as a disc of dough topped with tomato.

The first pizzerias, without doubt, were born in Naples and until the middle of the 20th century the product was exclusively a commodity of Naples and its pizzerias. From 1700 various botteghe were active in the city, called «pizzerie», whose fame arrived so far as the King of Naples, Ferdinando di Borbone, who in order to try this typical dish of the Neapolitan tradition, violated court etiquette by entering into one of the most renowned pizzerias. From that moment, the «pizzeria» was transformed into a fashionable locale, a place designated exclusively to the production of the «pizza».

The most popular and famous pizzas in Naples were the «marinara» born in 1734 and the «margherita» from 1796-1810, which was offered to the Queen of Italy on a visit to Naples in 1889 precisely for the color of its condiments (tomato, mozzarella and basil) which brought to mind the flag of Italy. Over time, pizzerias were born throughout the cities of Italy and even abroad, but every one of these, if in a city diverse from Naples, always tied its very existence to the phrase «pizzeria Napoletana» or, alternatively, used a term which could evoke in some way its tie with Naples, where for almost 300 years this product has remained virtually unaltered.

In 1984, in the month of May, nearly all the old-line pizzaioli (pizzamakers) in Naples participated in the creation of a brief disciplinary manual signed by all and registered by an official act by the notary Antonio Carannante of Naples.
Food History