There are millions of people all around the world that love eating pizza, but how many people actually know the history of that tasty delight they are eating? The pizza most people eat these days is much different from the original pizza, one would expect this given the fact that pizza is more than three hundred years old. It has evolved over the years and you can now get pizza made in many different ways and with an endless variety of toppings.
The origins of pizza is a highly debated subject, but what is traditionally considered the first pizza is believed to be first made in Naples, Italy around the 17th century. When it was first created, it was made as food for the poor people of Naples and contained only dough, fresh tomatoes, garlic, oil and sprinkled with basil and oregano. Commonly it was sold from hand carts to people like fishermen down at the docks, returning hungry from their long fishing trips. Eventually, word of the delicious Neapolitan dish reached other areas and people began travelling to Naples, just to get a taste of the popular treat. Somewhere around the year 1830, many people gave up selling their pizza on the streets of Naples and started opening the first pizza restaurants, which you could go to sit and enjoy your pizza in a classic restaurant setting. You can still get pizza from some of these original locations today if you ever visit Naples.
Many pizza makers in Naples believe there are only two true types of traditional pizza, the Marinara and the Margherita. The oldest is the Margherita, which is a simple pizza made only the crust, tomatoes, garlic, oregano, basil and extra virgin olive oil. It is named so, because it was the preferred food of sailors returning from their fishing trips, etc on the Bay of Naples. The second type of traditional Neopolitan pizza, the Margherita, is said to have been created by baker Raffaele Esposito in the year 1889. The story is that Espsito baked three separate pizzas for King Umberto the first and Queen Margherita of the new established Savoy dynasty, upon their visit to Naples. Queen Margherita had heard of the city's famous dish called pizza and wanted to taste it for herself. Esposito's three pizzas each represented a different Neopolitan way of making pizza. One made with cheese and basil. One made with tomatoes, oil and garlic. And the last one made with tomatoes, basil and mozzarella cheese, to represent the colors of the Italian flag. Impressed by the colors and taste of the last pizza, Queen Margherita proclaimed it her favorite of the three and so it became know as Pizza Margherita in her honor. Both of these types of pizza are still available all around Naples and many other pizzerias around the world.
In the United States, the pizza did not arrive until the 19th century, when Italian immigrants started bring their pizza recipes over with them and began making and selling the delicious food that was completely new to Americans. Pizza selling in the United States began in much the same way as it had in the beginning, back in Naples, sold on the streets by Italian vendors from their carts and stands. Also much like it did back in Italy, word of the amazing new food spread very quickly and soon people were travelling from miles around for a taste of one of Italy's best tasting dishes. From there, Italian immigrants started opening pizzerias all around the United States, mainly beginning in places with a high population of Italians. Once it became a very popular food in the United States, all kinds of people began opening their own pizzerias and making pizza of many non-traditional types. Pizza makers began experimenting with different toppings and ingredients and allowing customers to choose their own toppings.
This brings us to the pizzas most people eat today, from simple flatbread with tomatoes, to the fully customizable, topping covered tasty pizza pies of today, they have come a very long way over the years. One thing has remained the same throughout those years though, pizza is a delicious snack loved by almost everyone who tries it. So next time you're biting into your favorite pizza, remember how far it has come since it's humble beginning as a poor mans food.