The History of Neapolitan Pizza

Some say that the history of pizza began back with the Ancient Greeks who had a flatbread called plakous, flavoured with various toppings like herbs, onion and garlic.

Soldiers of the Persian King Darius the Great baked a kind of flatbread on their shields and then covered it with lard, dates and other items for long marches. During the 18th Century peasants in Naples decided to add tomatoes to this flatbread and then the modern pizza was born.The dish gained in popularity, and soon Pizza became a tourist attraction as visitors to Naples ventured into the poorer areas of the city in order to try the local specialty.

During the late 1800's, Queen Margherita and her husband, Umberto, took a tour of her Kingdom. While touring around Italy, she saw that many of Italy's citizens, especially peasants, were eating this large flat bread food. Curious about it, she told one of her guards to bring her a pizza bread. Upon tasting it, she immediately developed a love for pizza, and ate it every time she would venture out among the citizens. This caused some controversy among those in the Royal Court circles, as it was not becoming for royalty, especially the queen, to eat the food of mere peasants.

The queen, not wanting to miss out on this pizza experience requested that chef Raffaele Esposito come to the palace and bake pizza. Chef Rafaelle decided to make a special pizza in honor of his queen and one that would represent the colors of the Italian flag – green (basil leaves), white (mozzarella), and red (tomatoes). This combination was named Pizza Margherita in her honor.

Tomatoes were initially thought to be poisonous by Europeans and only really eaten by the poor. With the popularity of pizza on the increase, the wealthier of society soon realised that the Tomato was not poisonous but actually a very tasty fruit.

From this Pizza spread throughout Naples from the peasants into the houses of the wealthy and the upper classes. So people from all backgrounds within Naples were eating pizza and it soon went beyond Naples then throughout the rest of Italy and then beyond. Different regions added their versions adding meats, fish and cheeses, vegetables, herbs and spices.