• The origins of Pizza....Egypt, South America then Naples...

    Ever sat down and tucked into a proper Pizza?

    The answer is probably no, unless you visit the majestic city that is Napoli (Naples). The food for sharing, the food for talking, the food for watching a match with or film night at home. Symbolically associated with good times, it has its place in the not so good times as well; it's OK, we have all been there!

    So how did a circular shaped food become one of the world's favourite dishes?

    A bit of history...Bake like an Egyp-tian...You have to go back to circa 4000 BC, Egypt. Flat breads were part of the staple diet, in fact the whole region brought about the birth of bread as we know it today. The Egyptians created the first ovens, the only environment in which you could cook doughs and then other foods.

    As you can imagine the process wasn't really tied down, fires were lit below the oven, above the oven, but never inside - that obviously changed over time. (This was cooking through literal trial and error!)

    Then came the Romans, and basically stole the process of how to cook the breads this way.

    And so it took several men with donkeys to travel to North America...It actually didn't require any man with a donkey, but a whole trading pattern to begin with South America and North America for the cultivation of tomatoes. This in turn was then a food source for sailors and when it was discovered that they could bring back the plants it was around 150 years before they made their way into the popular food culture of big marine cities such as Naples and Genoa.

    Pizza Fritt' - Still available on the streets today
    Before tight t-shirts and sunglasses...Around 700 AD Neapolitan street merchants started to use this bread making technique and adding to it meats, vegetables so as to not incur waste on other foods, these would then be folded and deep fried. Along with this street food repetoir however, there were cultural inversions throughout Naples, with some merchants and subsequently customers differentiating on what could be classed as a real "pizza". (Before you say it, I will, what a bunch of fussy bastards!)

    It was going to be another 1000 years, well roughly, 1830 to be precise that the first indoor pizzeria was created, all the rest to that point were street stalls. And such, it became engrained in the history and culture of Naples, as a Neapolitan dish.

    And so we have to thank a Queen...It was to be 1889 that Pizza became the nations food. Queen Margherita wanted to sample the cities delicacy after supposedly hearing about it in some royal recount. (Are you getting that feeling they were a bit high class this lot?) Because she couldn't enter the city, they sent the "best" pizza chef, Don Raffaele and his wife Donna Rosa - who was actually the chef - to prepare a pizza fit for a queen. And thus the colours of the italian flag were used. Red = tomato, White = Mozzarella, Green = Basil leaves.

    So there we have it. A food which is varied across the world, really is the food of the world but whose cultural patrimony lies in the South of Italy. I ask you all, visit Naples, go to one of the pizzerias and try and not be impressed with what you get. I would recommend Sorbillo, Da Michelle and Brandi. But you can be assured, the standards are high, after all, if it's good enough for a Queen...

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