Did you ever know anyone who didn’t like pizza? Probably not since pizza is quite possibly one of the world’s favorite foods. In fact, the Neapolitan, a true Italian pizza is number two on the World’s 50 most favorite foods. With a few simple ingredients, it’s probably the local version of US southern cornbread. A crust made of wheat flour, three kinds of tomatoes, olive oil, salt, and basil makes the Neapolitan a classic.
History of Pizza
Historians tend to credit Greeks rather than Italians with the invention of pizza. This is probably because of their habit of piling different ingredients atop flatbread. The earliest Italian pizzas were either sweet or savory mixtures on flat bread. The word pizza first appeared in Latin text in the town of Gaeta in southern Italy around 997 AD. It was a noun describing an endowment that certain tenant farmers were to present to the town bishop at Christmas and Easter.
A flatbread existed in 16th century Naples called pizza. A poor man’s dish, it was sold in the streets long before it became a recipe. By the 17th century, the flatbreads in early pizzas were covered with a red sauce that was later replaced with tomatoes and perhaps fish. By 1843 toppings were growing more and more diverse. In the late 18th century the culinary art of adding tomatoes to yeast flatbread became commonplace in Naples. Pizza became a tourist attraction much like shrimp creole in New Orleans.
In June of 1889, it is said that a Neapolitan chef created “Pizza Margherita” in honor of the Queen consort of Italy by the same name. It was garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to represent the colors of the Italian flag.
Modern Day Pizza
Pizza got a slow start in the New World, or North America, as European settlers thought tomatoes to be poisonous. The dish was introduced in America in the late 19th century when Italian immigrants arrived in America. Sold on the streets, it became a popular food in cities like NYC, Chicago, and Philly; and the rest they say is history.
Today pizza comes in all sorts of forms and variations. There are mini pizzas, with pizza ingredients atop a halved English muffin, pizza rolls frozen in a box for snacking and pizza salad. Pizza recipes offer everything from gourmet pizzas to healthy pizzas. There are even fruit and dessert pizza recipes.
Try a submarine sandwich pizza for a fun twist on pizza. Use whole wheat sub rolls, low-fat cheeses, fresh chopped veggies and lean ground beef or pork. This healthy mixture will allow you to slip in a few pepperonis and still have a healthy meal.
Ingredients For Pizza Sub
- Four whole wheat sub rolls
- 16-ounce jar Italian sauce, pre-made or homemade
- One 8 ounce package Italian cheese mix, shredded
- 1/2 cup each red onions, green peppers, mushrooms, black olives, chopped
- 1 cup ground beef or sausage, cooked and crumbled
- Lightly toast halved rolls. Spread with Italian sauce
- Add pepperonis and ground sausage or beef. Top with cheese mixture.
- Sprinkle on onions, peppers, mushrooms and black olive slices.
- Top with another layer of cheese, and return to oven until the top layer of cheese melts.