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The Evolution of Pizza
The word “pizza” was first documented in 997 AD in Gaeta, Italy, and successively in different parts of Central and South Italy. The precursor of pizza was probably the focaccia, a flat bread known to the Romans as “panis focacius”, to which toppings were then added.
Foods similar to pizza have been made since the neolithic age. Records of people adding other ingredients to bread to make it more flavorful can be found throughout ancient history.
In Sardinia, French and Italian archaeologists have found bread baked over 7,000 years ago. The Ancient Greeks had a flat bread called plakous which was flavored with toppings like herbs, onion, and garlic.
Like pizza, these flatbreads are from the Odyssey area. Other examples of flatbreads that survive to this day from the ancient Mediterranean world are focaccia (which may date back as far as the ancient Etruscans), coca (which has sweet and savory varieties) from Catalonia, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, the Greek Pita, Lepinja in the Balkans, or Piadina in the Romagna part of Emilia-Romagna in Italy.
In 16th century Naples, a Galette flatbread was referred to as a pizza. Known as the dish for poor people, it was sold in the street and was not considered a kitchen recipe for a long time. This was later replaced by oil, tomatoes (after Europeans came into contact with the Americas) or fish.
An often recounted story holds that on 11 June 1889, to honour the Queen consort of Italy, Margherita of Savoy, the Neapolitan pizzamaker Raffaele Esposito created the “Pizza Margherita”, a pizza garnished with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil, to represent the national colours of Italy as on the Italian flag.