Pizza History

Pizza, like so many other foods, did not originate in the country for which it is now famous.

The foundations for Pizza were originally laid by the early Greeks who first baked large, round and flat breads which they "anointed with oil, herbs, spices and dates."

Eventually the idea of flat bread found its way to Italy where, in the 18th century, the flat breads called "Pizzas” were sold on the streets and in the markets. They were not topped with anything but were enjoyed au naturale.

In about 1889, Queen Margherita, accompanied by her husband, Umberto I, took an inspection tour of her Italian kingdom. During her travels she saw many people, especially the peasants, eating this large, flat bread. Curious, the queen ordered her guards to bring her one of these Pizza breads. The Queen loved the bread and would eat it every time she was out amongst the people, which caused some consternation in court circles. It was not seemly for a Queen to dine on peasant's food.

Never the less, the queen loved the bread and decided to take matters into her own hands. Summoning chef Rafaelle Esposito from his pizzeria to the royal palace, the queen ordered him to bake a selection of pizzas for her pleasure.

To honour the queen who was so beloved by her subjects, Rafaelle decided to make a very special pizza just for her. He baked a Pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, and fresh basil (to represent the colours of the Italian flag: red, white, and green).

This became Queen Margherita's favourite pizza and when word got out that this was one of the queen's favourite foods, she became even more popular with the Italian people. She also started a culinary tradition, the Pizza Margherita, which lasts to this very day in Naples and has now spread throughout the world.

Variations began to be made in different parts of the country. In Bologna, for example, meat began to be added into the topping mix. Neapolitan Pizza became quite popular and it brought garlic and crumbly Neapolitan cheeses into the mixture as well as herbs, fresh vegetables, other spices and flavourings.

So, next time you eat a Pizza, stop and think of Queen Margherita....... who loved to have a Pizza.