A bit of history
Since the ancient Greeks were the global powerhouse of the time, we’ve been topping off our flat breads with all sorts of tasty ingredients. Depending on who you believe, the first time the word ‘pizza’ was coined was around the 1100’s AD. While Rome has been mentioned as the birthplace for pizza, it is almost certain that this was actually in Naples. Early creations delved with various bases until global trade brought the tomato to Italy. This one fruit completely changed the pizza landscape once and for all.
Pizza remained a country dish only for Italians, until Queen Margherita and her husband King Umberto I, toured their kingdom. The queen noticed this dish and was completely smitten with it. She had her chef make various styles of pizza until he hit on the one she fell in love with. The chef honored the Italian flag by using the red tomatoes for the base, green basil and white mozzarella cheese. Alas, the Margherita pizza was born.
It wasn’t until around the end of World War II that pizza became a global demand. Allied soldiers fell in love with the dish and ultimately created many pizzerias honoring this most beloved of Italian gifts to the world.
Why it is so popular?
When you look at pizza, it contains all the major categories of tastes that we love to enjoy: sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami. Each of these tastes are found in the food ingredients we eat that triggers our taste buds. The word to watch here is glutamate. Glutamate is naturally found in foods that give a savory umami sensation. Think of this as a flavor enhancer. Authentic Italian pizza is brimming with naturally occurring glutamate. This is probably why you cant just stop at one. High levels of glutamate can be found in the aged cheese, tomatoes and even the animal proteins of the pizza.
To be authentic
Now to understand what “authentic Italian pizza” means, is to understand what an authentic Italian pizza is. According to the TNPA (True Neapolitan Pizza Association), a governing body that upholds the original pizza standards, only Margherita and Marinara are acknowledged as authentic Italian pizzas (Neapolitan pizzas). The Marinara uses tomatoes oregano, extra virgin olive oil and if preferred, basil.
Strict rules to be authentic
Aside from a preference for a wood burning oven (don’t worry, it’s not officially a set rule), or using San Marzano tomatoes from the foothills of Mount Vesuvius and only using fresh mozzarella fiordilatte from your local Italian farm, you can still make your own authentic Italian pizza under the governing body’s rules below.
According to the TNPA, your pizza must be:
- It cannot be greater than 13 and three-quarter inches in diameter.
- The center of the pizza must be less than one-tenth of an inch tall.
- The flour must be hand-kneaded and only prepared from traditional types of flour, yeast, salt and tomatoes
That’s all it takes to make it real. Goditi la tua pizza!! or Enjoy your pizza!!