Pizza has very ancient origins; historians believe in fact that this aliment was already present in the etruscan tradition, with forms and ingredients different from the current ones. Pizza was born as food for the poor, with simple ingredients that were easily available: flour, olive oil, salt and baking powder.
The real pizza, as we know it today, was born around 1600 in South Italy, needing to make the traditional crushed bread more tasty; in the beginning it was made with bread dough, cooked in wood-fired ovens and dressed with “aglio, strutto e sale grosso”, or with cheese and basil.
The first pizza recipe that was invented in history is the so called pizza “alla mastunicola”, that is pizza topped with basil. It was prepared using “strutto”, cheese, basil and pepper to be put on the pizza’s base.
The discovery of America in 1492 by Cristoforo Colombo gave to pizza its main ingredient, fresh tomato. Imported from Peru, tomato was first used as a cooked sauce with some salt and basil, and then someone thought to put it on pizza, using for the first time in history the most frequently seen topping for pizza as we eat it nowadays.
In the beginning, pizza was mostly consumed in Naples (Italy), and in United States. In fact, pizza was exported in America thanks to the many Italian immigrants that came to New York in the XIX century. Thanks to them, many pizzerias were opened, bringing the original Neapolitan tradition of making pizza with its original flavours and taste.
In the same period in Naples, it was the first time that mozzarella, an Italian cheese, was used as pizza topping. A pizzaiolo from Naples, Raffaele Esposito and his wife, prepared the famous pizza with tomato and mozzarella for the first time for the Queen Margherita, the spouse Umberto I, King of Italy.
The pizzaiolo and his wife prepared three pizzas for queen Margherita: one “mustinicola”, one “marinara” and a pizza with tomato, mozzarella and cheese, inspired by the Italian flag’s colours. The queen was enchanted by the last one, and that is the reason for it’s name, as Raffaele Esposito named this pizza after the Queen.