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A History of Pizza | History Today

The world's favorite fast food

The world's favorite fast food

Pizza is the world's favorite fast food, with some three billion pizza sold every year in the US alone.

The story of how pizza became so popular reveals much about the history of migration, economics, and technological change.

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A History of Pizza | History Today

A History of Pizza | History Today

https://www.historytoday.com/archive/historians-cookbook/history-pizza

historytoday.com

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Key Ideas

The world's favorite fast food

Pizza is the world's favorite fast food, with some three billion pizza sold every year in the US alone.

The story of how pizza became so popular reveals much about the history of migration, economics, and technological change.

History of Pizza

Pizza - pieces of flatbread, topped with savories - was a simple and tasty meal for those who could not afford plates.

  • Early pizzas appear in Virgil's Aeneid. Aeneas and his crew ate thin wheaten cakes with mushrooms and herbs scattered on them.
  • In the 18th century Naples, pizza as we know it came into being. With a struggling urban economy and a great number of poor inhabitants, they needed food that was cheap and easy to eat. Pizza met this need.

Pizzas were scorned

For a long time, pizzas were associated with poverty and scorned by food writers.

In 1831, Samuel Morse described pizza as a ‘species of the most nauseating cake … covered over with slices of pomodoro or tomatoes, and sprinkled with little fish and black pepper and I know not what other ingredients, it altogether looks like a piece of bread that has been taken reeking out of the sewer.

Pizzas gain popularity

While on a visit to Naples in 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita grew tired of the complicated French dishes they were served. Three sorts of pizza were offered to the queen: one with lard, caciocavallo, and basil; another with cecenielli; and a third with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil.

The queen was delighted. Her favorite – the last of the three – was named Pizza Margherita in her honor.

The migration

  • From the 1930s onward, a number of Neapolitans moved northward, taking their cuisine with them.
  • When Allied soldiers invaded Italy in 1943, they so liked the pizza that they asked for it wherever they went.
  • After the war, tourists became increasingly curious about Italian food, including pizza.
  • In America, by the end of the 19th century, Italian emigrants had reached the East Coast, and in 1905 the first pizzeria was opened in New York City.
  • Shortly after the US entered World War II, a Texan opened Chicago pizzeria. He offered the dish with a thicker crust and with more toppings, usually with cheese at the bottom and chunky tomato sauce on top.
  • In the 1950s, the pizza became more domesticated. Frozen pizza was designed to be taken home and baked at will.

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Plan ahead

Before you shop for the self-isolation period:

  • Consider the foods your family likes, your food preparation methods and the time and energy you will have for preparing meals.

While at the supermarket

... during the pandemic:

  • Use disinfecting wipes for your hands and grocery cart handle, and then make sure you put the wipe in the trash.
  • Supermarkets are running low on many items. Be ready with a back-up plan if an ingredient you need is unavailable.
  • Use contactless payment or credit cards. If you have to use the payment keypad, tap the buttons and screen with your knuckle then use hand sanitizer after completing your payment.
  • Contribute to local pantries and soup kitchens, to help the less fortunate.

Eating together at home

Make meals at home a positive and fun experience:

  • Get the whole family involved. Kids can help set the table or pour the water, make the salad.
  • Try some new easy recipes, that require a few ingredients.
  • Reconnect with the family: eat together at the table or spread a blanket on the floor and have an indoor picnic.

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