Enjoy two Italian traditions on 9th February. What is your favourite type of pizza? Are you a traditionalist or a lover of the American deep dish or the NYC slice?
Pizza day celebrates all things dough and topping related. Pizza has many different variations and many countries have their own unique take on the famous food. Although now highly popularised and widely available, modern pizza was originally invented in Naples, Italy.
The word “pizza” is of Greek origin, derived from the Greek word pēktos (πικτή) known also for the word pitta, which means fermented pastry. The ancient Greeks topped their bread with oils, herbs and cheese. The first major innovation that led to the pizza we know today was the introduction of tomatoes to Europe, which was then used as a topping. It was common for the poor in the area around Naples to add tomato to their hard flatbreads, and so the tradition of consuming pizza began.
While it is difficult to say with certainty who invented pizza, popular urban legend holds that the original pizza, the Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo, Raffaele Esposito, to create a pizza in honour of Queen Margherita’s visit. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred one representing the colours of the Italian flag: red (tomato), green (basil) and white (mozzarella).
The first pizzeria, known as Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, opened in 1830 in Naples. In Italy, pizza served in a restaurant is presented unsliced, and is eaten with a knife and fork. At home, however, it is cut into slices to be eaten by hand.
Gennaro Lombardi was the first chef to open a US pizzeria in 1905 in New York City. Pizza Hut, the famous pizzeria chain first appeared in the United States in 1958.
Although the pizza we know and love is very different, today, there are many varieties of pizza around the world, along with several variants of pizza-based dishes. In the US, many states have their own unique pizza style, such as the Chicago deep dish and the rectangular Detroit Style Pizza, with is made in a baking tray. The Hawaiian pizza, however, was not invented by the island nation, instead hailing from Canada since the year 1962. It seems from its origins, this particular pizza has been full of controversy.
The Superenalotto, Italy’s biggest lottery draw is today perhaps even more followed, loved and played by Italians than football bets. In fact, with such a rampant phenomenon even our pizza chef friends wanted to play with it. As such you can actually find many pizzerias around Italy that have named themselves “superena” pizza or similar. Such places usually sell the tickets, adding an extra slice of luck with your takeaway calzone.