We all love it in one way or another. Whether it comes from a supermarket, from the fast food on the corner or from a fancy restaurant, it’s always delicious. Ever wondered how the first chefs came upon the combination of bread, melted cheese and sauce? In its incipient days, pizza was only a slice of flatbread topped with herbs. The first documented use of the name dates back from 997 AD in Gaeta, Italy. By the 1700s, pizza had become a specialty in Naples, particularly in the poor areas. Two main variety emerged in Italy: pizza “marinara” which was topped with oregano, olive oil and garlic and pizza “Margherita” which was topped with sauce, mozzarella and olive oil. Nowadays, pizza stands for the ubiquitous food on the planet. You can find it everywhere, wearing the specific country’s signature. Chicago went even further and created the deep dish pizza. I’d be curious to find out how Italians feel about that. Eager to learn more? Check out theses things you didn’t know about pizza.
1. Neapolitan Pizzas are verified by an organization
Dating back from 1984, the organization’s name is “True Neapolitan Pizza Association”. If you aspire to call your product authentic Neapolitan, it has to meet several criteria. First of all, it should be baked in a dome oven that has a wood fire. Secondly, you’re not allowed to use any utensils to make the pizza. Thirdly, your Neapolitan pizza should have a diameter of maximum 35 centimeters and it shouldn’t be thicker than one third of a centimeter. No pressure, Neapolitan pizza makers of the world.
2. We don’t know anything about the word’s origins
Nobody knows where the word “pizza” came from. However, there are some theories that point to the Italian word “pizzicare” which would translate through “pluck quickly from the oven”. There’s also the Old High German word “pizzo” which means “mouthful” and which was brought to Italians by the Lombards back in the sixth century. Another influence could have been given by the Ancient Greek word “pikte” meaning “fermented pastry” as well as “pitta” which stands for “bran bread”.
3. Tomatoes didn’t use to be mandatory
Nowadays you’d probably send your pizza back to the kitchen if it didn’t have tomatoes. But tomatoes were brought from the New World late in the 1500s, when pizza was already a big thing. So we can safely assume it used to be consumed without tomatoes. Later, someone had the brilliant idea to add tomato cubes to pizza and everybody loved it. We can only hope the genius behind the development was somehow rewarded.
4. The outer edge is called the cornicione
Now you know how to impress your friends next time you all go out to Pizza Hut. You’ll probably be the only one at the table knowing that the “bones” your friends left on their plates are actually called “cornicione”. Unlike the crust, which is the base that is topped with everything else, the “cornicione” stands for the cornice.
5. No pizza slices for the Italians
Yes, you’ve read that right. There are actually no round pizzas in Italy. Italians serve pizza whole or they cut it into rectangles straight from a large tray. This is called “pizza al taglio”. Americans didn’t like the square shape and decided to put their own spin on it. So they invented the round pizza. The large pizzas used to be sold on the streets of New York for five cents. But not everyone could afford a whole one. So the sellers adjusted to the clientele and cut up their pies into wedges. And this is how the New York slice came into the world.