Since the antiquity witnessed the flourishing of the most important civilizations that loomed over the Mediterranean Sea, there are thousands of examples that can be considered the ‘ancestors’ of pizza that we know today.
From Ancient Egypt to Classical Greece and to Ancient Rome and Pompei, there are examples of foods resemble in composition of cooking the pizza. In Egypt, it was customary to celebrate Pharaoh’s birthday while eating a spice flavored with herbs.
The Classical Greece teaches anecdotes that lead back to pizza, or at least a ‘rudimentary’ version of it. There are numerous testimonies of Greek writers in regard to the various types of ‘pizza’ in those times. In the ancient Greek, it was denominated ‘mace’. Among the fermented and unfermented versions were the ‘placenta’ and the ‘hoffa’ prepared with water and barley.
The pizza can be defined as a round and flat dough that is baked and that on top can have cheese, chicken, tomato and other ingredients such as meat, fish and even more novelties like pineapple. But where did it come from? The first pizzas, although they did not have that name, arose in the Mediterranean basin. In Greece, there are also data on the matter where the pizza was called ‘maza’ and had a great diversity of ingredients. When later to the Roman Empire Greece, it was annexed. Little by little, its place of origin would be established in Naples.
Diffusion during Middle Ages
The word ‘pizza’ is already attested in medieval times and in the following centuries different local forms of this term are found which indicate culinary variations, from sweet to salty, and different methods of cooking. The Germanic people of Northern Europe brought with them the buffalo, a type of cheese, which provided milk for the creation of typical mozzarella.
Arrival of Tomato
Subsequently, in the modern era, the discovery of the New World would bring with it in Europe an element without which pizza could not exist, the tomato. The discovery of America made it possible to add this fundamental element, which until that moment was unknown to the Europeans and for that reason was at first a cause of fear, because they were believed to be ‘poisonous apples’, but over time the distrust dissipated.
After some time of doubts about its success, the tomato entered triumphantly in the Neapolitan food in particular. The pizza will benefit from this fact, getting even closer to the shape that is currently known.