Naples, New York, Rome, Boston. The list of places where the origins of the miraculous godsend to even the most picky or Gluten-free are speculated to be is long and well-traveled. Another object of debate that many people wonder is:
What Defines Pizza?
In this case, we’ll focus on pizza in the modern style, and leave the Flatbread style (including Tandoori, Naan, Mesopotamian, and Egyptian styles), Deep Dish or Chicago style, Greek Plakountos, Sicilian Thick-crust, and other, lesser known styles.
Pizza in the modern style, most commonly known as Thin-crust or Neapolitan style (though Neapolitan technically refers to a pizza with a specific set of ingredients), is thought to have originated in the 18th to early 19th century in Naples, Italy, where it was a much needed inexpensive staple for the lazzaroni, or Italian working class. With the visit of Queen Margherita to Naples in 1889, she coined the Margherita pizza at Pizzeria Brandi, officially bring more fame and promise to a cuisine that was often designated in the past as food for the poor. However, this fame did not reach far beyond the boundaries of the Mediterranean state until the early-to-mid 20th century.
So if pizza didn’t originate in New York, how did it get there?
In 1905, Lombardi’s in Manhattan became the first documented Pizzeria in the US, and in 1940, with the arrival of Neapolitans looking for jobs in US factories, pizza began to spread. Pizza’s popularity flourished, and pretty sound it was in every state in America, with each pizza having a different twist to reflect the place of its birth. Pizza began change form once again, and soon, with the founding of Pizza Hut and Domino’s, it had become a mass-produced good that established a huge international presence.
But pizza is still pizza, it couldn’t have changed too much, could it?
In any given day, around 13% of the US population aged 2 and over consumes pizza, according to a three year survey conducted by the USDA. With pizza-by-the-slice, delivery, and bargains for larger proportions, not only is the style and scale of pizza changing dramatically, but the entire pizza culture. Pizza has become more get-up-and-go, and less about the experience of actually sitting, eating, and experiencing a pizza place.
Recently though, Pizza has changed for the better. With a general push in the restaurant industry for gourmet food, many more expensive and “higher quality” restaurants have begun adopting pizza into their menus. From high profile seafood venues to Gordon Ramsay, the trend for high-quality pizza is back on the map, and it looks like both forms have found a way to coexist peacefully. Even more expansively, pizza has been adapted to support the Green movement, with types of pizzas to promote healthy and environmentally-conscious eating choices, using special types of flour and often substitutes for the marinara/tomato sauce or the cheese. No matter which pizza you choose however, the legacy will continue.