It’s the one word apart from ‘sex’ that can get everyone’s attention pretty much instantly. Everyone likes their own brand of pizza - be it bacon or barbecue chicken, thin crust or deep dish, Domino’s or Pizza Hut, everyone’s got their own choice. But just take a second and think about the simplicity of the dish. It’s shaped bread with cheese and sauce topped with some veggies and meat. When you think about it this way, it isn’t hard to fathom how far back the idea of a pizza can go back to.
We can see the evolution of pizza from the Stone Age. Throughout history, people have added other ingredients to bread to make it more flavorful. The Greeks used to add cheese, oil and herbs to their bread while the Persian soldiers of Darius 1’s army baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their battle shields.
The modern Pizza comes from Naples in Italy from around the 18th to 19th Century. Before the pizza, they served flatbread with lard, cheese, garlic, salt and basil. Until the 1830’s, they sold pizza from open-air stands and straight out of pizza bakeries, and you can still find this tradition if you go to Naples today.
Persian soldiers baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their battle shields
There is a contemporary legend that speaks of a man called Raffaele Esposito who created the pizza in honour of the visiting Queen Margherita. The pizza was called the ‘pizza Margherita’ and was supposedly invented in 1889. Researchers don’t agree with this story, although a loose version of it could’ve taken place as an official letter of recognition from the Queen's "Head of Service" remains on display in Esposito's shop, now called the Pizzeria Brandi.
The pizza was popularized by the USA more than any other country in the world, where it only reached around the late 19th century. The first pizzeria called ‘Lombardi’s’ was opened in 1905 and it served as the perfect environment for soldiers who were returning from the Italian campaigns in World War 2.
It was in the USA that pizza became way more complex as a dish than it ever was. More cheese was introduced, newer toppings such as bacon and chicken were experimented with, and even the style of making the bread changed. American pizza is significantly different from the Italian Neapolitan pizza.
Fact: The Hawaiian Pizza, the one with the pineapples was not even created in Hawaii. In 1954, Sam Panopoulos, a Greek immigrant in Canada created the first Hawaiian Pizza. So if you guys wanna blame someone, it’s this guy.
As is the case with most dishes that come to India, they adapted to the local cuisine
Around the 80’s is when pizza started to be served in India. Bakeries and South Indian restaurants served the pastry-like flatbread with way too much ketchup on it with a layer of grated cheese on top. Around the 90’s, Don Giovanni’s in Calcutta and Nirula’s in Delhi were some of the only places around that served pizza. And as it was the case with most dishes that come to India, they adapted to the local cuisine. Hence, we can read this article while munching on a Chicken Tikka Pizza from Smokin’Joe’s or a Keema Do Pyaaza from Domino’s!