The Dinette Teller – 20. The History of Pizza

Pizza is the worldwide renowned symbol of Italy. It is a complete and healthy meal, which provide carbs from the dough, proteins from the cheese and vitamins from the tomato.

Pizza as a complete meal

Before the advent of this delicious treat, the most diffuse snack in the Roman Epoch was the “focaccia”, a delicious savoury bread, which is still a must in Italy and cherished by people of all ages. At that time, people used to make the dough with hulled wheat flour, which was the most common one. In fact, it is said that the word “farina”, which means “flour” derives from the word “farro”, standing for “spelt”.

The Romans used to roll out the dough, in order to bake the “libum”, their traditional savoury bread.


Many people argue that the name “pizza” comes from “pinsa”, which is the latin word for the verb “roll out”.

The savoury bread was usually baked in the fireplace since the oven was not commonly spread in the households yet.

After the 16th century, the first cookbooks and recipes about pizza arIse, mainly in the North of Italy and Venice. It could be seen as a paradox since the pizza is typical from the southern regions of Italy! In fact, those recipes were remarkably different from the typical one. The ingredients for the dough comprised eggs, butter and sugar. Therefore it recalled more a cake than a pizza, as the traditional dough is made only with water, flour and salt.

Thick pizza of Venice

The discovery of America brought along new ingredients, such as corn, tomato, potato, beans, peppers and zucchini, which had been gradually introduced also in Italy in the following years. This culinary development took place especially in the northern part of Italy again, whereas the southern part was left behind. There, people continues baking their savoury bread using the spelt flour and olive oil. Over the years herbs like basil and oregano or mozzarella cheese were also added.


Only after the second half of the 18th century, the tomato was introduced as ingredients to dress the pizza in Napoli as well.

This snack fascinated also the royal family of Naples, and the Pizza Margherita became in 1889 the real symbol of the tricolour flag of Italy.

The first pizza recipe which met the traditional requirements was written in the first half of the 19th century.


However, throughout Italy, it is possible to find different types of pizza, according to the local traditions. For example, in Tuscany, the base is thinner than the one of Campania. Moreover, one of the highlights of pizza is the variety of dressings. People can add any ingredients and it will taste always delicious!


Nevertheless, most of the people from Naples are very strict about the traditional recipe and combinations of ingredients to use: For example, “Pizza Marinara” should be made only with tomato, oregano, garlic and basil. Recipes that suggest also mozzarella or anchovies are not allowed! The pizza dough should be hand made and baked in a wooden oven, at a temperature of 485°C for 60-90 seconds.

Very strict!

Until 1830, the pizza was meant as a street food and was sold by stalls in the streets, while pizza restaurants are only a more recent arrangement.

Pizza restaurant

Immigrants to the USA brought with them the secrets of this delicacy, at the end of the 19th century. The fashion began in the main cities such as San Francisco, Chicago, New York and Philadelphia, where Italian communities were well represented. Anyway, it took a very short time for the pizza to become a celebrity in the whole continent, and its fame easily reached the most hidden corners on Earth.

Pizza all around the World!

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