Who Invented the Pizza? History and Legends

Pizza, along with pasta, is an international icon of Italian cuisine with its own unique history. While it’s more or less impossible to determine pizza’s actual inventor, pizza fans around the world might have pondered over its origins while enjoying a wood-fired margherita fresh from the oven. With a little research, it is possible to understand more about the history of this beloved dish.

Who invented the pizza?

It seems that a sort of ‘schiacciata’ was prepared between the 1500s and 1600s in the Kingdom of Naples, which today takes the name of Mastunicola pizza. This embryonic pizza was topped with pork fat, sheep’s cheese and basil, and would have been largely unrecognisable from the pizza we know today, There was also whitebait, in addition to the ancient condiments, but still no trace of tomato until the mid-1700s.

It was only around the mid-1800s that pizza became very similar to what we know today: a blank canvas to be painted with the most diverse ingredients. The addition of new ingredients took pizza to another level: from being the food of the poor it became a dish for the rich. However, pizza remained a recipe limited to the Kingdom of Naples for some time. It was only after the Second World War, thanks to migration, that pizza was first known in northern Italy and later also abroad.

Who invented the Margherita pizza?

a close up of pizza margherita

It might be true that it is impossible to know the name of the person who invented the pizza, but there is a name for the creator of the Margherita pizza: Raffaele Esposito. The owner of a well-known pizzeria in Naples, Esposito, dedicated this pizza to Queen Margherita of Savoy in 1889. The aim being to represent the Italian flag on a plate and therefore mozzarella, basil and tomato were the ingredients that crowned one of the most famous pizzas in the world. The legend of pizza Margherita is therefore authentic, a moment in history that really happened, and for this we should forever be grateful to the two protagonists.

Who invented the Neapolitan pizza?

A close up of a neapolitan pizza

Today, pizza is widespread all over the globe. Different versions are prepared with the most varied (and often strange) doughs and toppings. However, the Neapolitan pizza remains a symbol of the city that also brings a significant number of tourists from all over the world to eat its particular version. Long leavened and with a famous high crust, Neapolitan pizza is soft and fluffy, thin and rich in toppings that usually include tomatoes and cheese. Some say that the ‘water’ is among the secrets of the perfect Neapolitan pizza; others say the climate, but it is certainly time, experience and quality ingredients that make the difference.

What are the origins of the word ‘pizza’?

The origins of the word ‘pizza’ are also uncertain, much like the origins of the pizza itself. It is thought that it may derive from the word ‘pinsa’, a term from ancient Neapolitan which derives from the verb ‘pinsere’, which is to crush. It could also derive from the term ‘pita’, which in Greek reminds us of the verb ‘to bake’. Another version, the most accredited but unconfirmed one, determines that the word pizza derives from the Germanic term ‘bizzo’ or ‘pizzo’ intended as a bite relative to the English words ‘bit’ and ‘bite’.

Learn how to make pizza at home.

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