Italians are serious about their pizza.
Pizza has a long and rich history, dating all the way back to the 1800s in Naples, Italy when the Neapolitan ports were bustling with activity. Though the seafaring town was booming, that wealth did not necessarily extend to the lower classes or the lazzaroni. Those with less money needed meal options that were quick, cost-effective, and featured easily-found ingredients. The answer, of course, was pizza.
Jumping forward in time to 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita became bored with a constant diet of French cuisine while on a tour of Italy. To satisfy their hunger, they asked for different pizzas instead. The queen’s favorite featured white cheese, tomatoes, and plenty of fresh basil. Sound familiar? We still know this style of pizza today as margherita pizza!
You might be wondering if our Italian ancestors enjoyed similar toppings on their pizzas. If so, the answer is yes! Tomatoes, cheese, olive oil, and garlic were all popular toppings at the time. Another popular topping (that has since fallen slightly out of favor in the U.S.) is anchovies!
The history of pizza does not end with Queen Margherita. Even today, the tradition of creating and enjoying authentic Neopolitan pizza is upheld. An organization called the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (The True Neapolitan Pizza Association) is dedicated to maintaining the legacy of the traditional pizza and training chefs around the world! They even have a 127-page document detailing the qualifications of an authentic Margherita pizza, featuring a list of ingredient standards covering all the bases—from the specific water content in cheese to a particular type of sea salt.
If it is not already clear, Pizza has always been important to Naples culture and history–today than ever before. In fact, in 2017 UNESCO declared the pizza makers of Naples to be one of their Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity sites.
All this talk of pizza left you hungry? Check out our Travel page and plan a trip to a Naples pizzeria today!
Featured Image Credit to Italy Magazine
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