Feb. 20, 2013 - Issue #905: DOA No more - Trading in punk for politics
Where it all began
A brief history of pizza
During the 16th century in Naples, Italy, a Galette flatbread—a term in French cuisine for pastries that were often garnished with various toppings—was referred to as a pizza, and the dish became associated with poor people as it was sold in the streets. Once Italians began importing tomatoes from the New World, they began to be used as frequent topping options on early pizzas. It's been often recounted that in June 1889, Margherita of Savoy, queen consort of Italy, was honoured by Neapolitan pizza maker Raffaele Esposito, who created the "Pizza Margherita," a variety topped with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese and basil to incorporate the colours of the Italian flag.
As with most historical accounts of events, there's another side to the story, which claims the Bourbon king Ferdinand II of the Two Sicilies and a pizza maker named Domenico Testa predate Queen Margherita's story by 30 years with the mention of a pizza containing basil, mozzarella and tomatoes in 1847.
Regardless of when it was used first, the tomato is credited as the ingredient that led to the pizza we know today. Until around 1830, pizza was sold at open-air stands in the streets, and Antica Pizzeria Port'Alba in Naples is regarded as the city's first pizzeria—it's been said the business started producing pizzas for peddlers in 1738 before expanding to a restaurant in 1830—and it's still in business today.
There's a dizzying amount of pizza toppings available today, but so-called "purists" consider there to be only two types of pizza: Margherita and marinara, which is topped with oregano, garlic and extra virgin olive oil.
In the early 20th century, the United States got in on the action when Italian street peddlers in Chicago started selling pizza on the streets.
Following the Second World War, American soldiers brought back their newfound taste for pizza and the popularity of it began to rise throughout the '50s, with the first frozen supermarket pizzas being introduced around 1957. It was during the same period that pizza delivery began to take off, as it was easily transported by using a cardboard box and became regarded as a convenience food. While many small pizzerias offered delivery in the '50s along with the birth of car culture, Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan is often credited with turning the service into something viewed as a profitable venture.
In 1984, the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (True Neapolitan Pizza Association) was founded. The organization set very specific rules to be followed in order for a pizza to be considered authentic Neapolitan. The rigid rules stipulate that the pizza must be baked in a wood-fired, domed oven; the base must be hand-kneaded and not rolled by any mechanical means; and that it must not exceed 35 cm in diameter or measure more than one-third of a centimetre thick at its centre.
In 1995, Kraft unveiled the first "self-rising crust."
In 2009, the European Union established a ruling to protect Naples' Neapolitan pizza as a cultural food heritage. Any pizzeria that bills itself as such and claims to create authentic Neapolitan pizza must comply with the strict preparation guidelines.
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