Vita Gazette

News from Italy

Italy’s National Flavor Pizza

di Andira Vitale

The fresco from the excavations of Pompeii proved once again that Italians ate pizza 2000 years ago… It was found in the excavations carried out in the Regio IX region of the Pompeii Archaeological Park, near Naples, the home of pizza; it is located on the corridor wall of a house whose annexe is an oven. The fresco appears to depict a round focaccia surrounded by various fruits on a silver platter, including pomegranates and perhaps dates. But the round dough needs the two essential ingredients for pizza: tomato and mozzarella. So let’s remember the history of our national pizza… Here we are…

When Italy is mentioned, some people think of the Renaissance, some think of ancient cities embroidered like lace, and some think of lively squares. But the place almost everyone meets is Pizza, which surrounds the world with its taste and attractive round appearance.

Although it has yet to be discovered by whom and when it was first made, the history of bread baked by opening thinly goes back to the discovery of flour about 15 thousand years ago. It is known that Babylonians, Israelis, Egyptians and other civilisations consumed unleavened flatbreads baked in earthen ovens. It is not a myth that the ancient Mediterranean people began to eat their flatbreads by adding olive oil and spices such as thyme afterwards. B.C. In the expedition records of the Persian king Darius in the sixth century B.C., the soldiers in his army prepared food with melted cheese on flat and round bread during long marches.

However, the oldest traces of authentic pizza appear in Italy. B.C. In the 700s, when Naples and Rome were founded, Italians gave their gods round gifts made of thin dough. It is mentioned in religious documents that the Romans and their neighbours called “mensa”, a thin layer of bread baked from the unleavened wheat dough and on which fruits and vegetables to be offered to the gods were placed. Later this word would be used to mean “table”…

Pizza Ruins of Pompeii

Information about pizza’s origin is in Pompeii and M.S.’s ruins. It also appears in the first-century gourmet Marcus Gavius ​​Apicus cookbook. M.S. What came out from under the petrified ashes of Mount Vesuvius, which erupted in 79 AD, is very similar to today’s pizza ovens. Again, the petrified remains of flatbreads from Pompeii and the nearby Greek colony of Neopolis (Naples or Naples) indicate Pizza’s past. The famous gourmet of the period, Gavius, gives recipes for round bread prepared with chicken, pine nuts, cheese, garlic, mint, pepper and vegetable oil.

It is said that the origin of pizza goes back to the Latin verb “sincere”, which means to crush and grind. In Naples in the 16th century, smashed bread was called pizza, probably derived from a distortion of the word “pitta”, meaning pita. Naples received severe immigration from the lower class and became the centre of poverty. The economic crisis spawned the quest to prepare cheap but delicious food. Humble vendors prepared pizza for humble customers. It was cooked on a wood fire in the ovens of shops, usually a house. This exquisite flavour, prepared by combining mozzarella cheese, tomatoes and various ingredients, and sold by street vendors, has become the number one food of poor villagers…

The journey from Bourbons to Savoy

The King of Naples, a descendant of Louis XIV, also played an essential role in the fate of Pizza. Name IV. He was Ferdinand di Borbone but was also called Re Nasone, meaning ‘long-nosed king’ because of his nose. (1751-1825). He married Caroline, the daughter of Maria Theresa of Habsburg and the sister of Marie Antoinette. Ferdinand was far from the concept of nobility that circulated all over Europe. On the other hand, Caroline was an aristocratic girl who grew up in the comfort and luxury of the Austrian court. Ferdinand was a non-conformist king who liked to visit poor neighbourhoods and see how people lived. During these visits, he noticed the circular pita focaccia, pizza and schiacciata, sold at the stalls and decorated with tomatoes and cheese. She loved them so much that Viennese aristocrat Queen Carolina included these foods in her kitchen. He used Capodimonte porcelain, famous in Europe for its beauty and the delicacy of its figures, to cook pizzas. Special furnaces were built in the garden of the palace. The food cooked in these ovens was distributed to the poor free of charge.

The Legend of Pizza Margherita

But Queen Margherita was fortunate enough to change the perception that Pizza is “the food of the poor”. Was Pizza Margherita born in honour of the Queen of Italy? Or is it a patriotic legend that attacks one of the country’s symbols? Regardless, it is true that this story played an essential role in making Pizza one of the firsts of world cuisine. In May 1889, King Umberto I of Italy and his wife, Queen Margherita of Savoy, were in Naples. They were staying at the royal palace of Capodimonte, a summer residence, as they often did. One day, they invited Raffaele Esposito, one of the famous pizza masters of the period, to the palace. Esposito was the owner of “Pizzeria Pietro”, founded in 1780. Esposito prepared three types of pizza for the king and queen. One is oil, cheese and basil, the other is fish, and the third is the colours of the Italian flag: green mozzarella, green basil and tomato. Queen Margherita liked the pizza with the colours of the Italian flag the most. Legend has it that the queen, who had never tasted pizza before, liked it mainly for its taste but above all for its colours that reminded her of the Italian flag. Curious, he asked her name. Esposito answered “Margherita” right there. Out of amazement? Out of cunning? Unknown. But pizza, which received the queen’s approval and name, suddenly ceased to be a symbol of poverty and became a meal enjoyed by the royal family; Later on, it became the national symbol of Italy! Thus, the name of the pizza with mozzarella and tomato, which Francesco De Bourcard mentioned in his book “The Uses and Traditions of Naples”, written in 1858, became known with the queen’s name, thanks to Esposito’s ingenuity. A royally sealed letter, allegedly sent by the Queen to Esposito, is still on display in the window of the pizza shop today called “Pizzeria Brandi”. The authenticity of this letter, which is described as a marketing genius, is still debated, but Pizza Margherita’s name and taste are travelling the world.                                                                                                                                                       Assunta…

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