We all know them. We all eat them at lunch and dinner. When we go out we order them. And they are so delicious and tasty. Moreover, they are typically Italian. They bring the scent of Italy and the flavour of its cuisine. They are simply pasta and pizza.
After that humble introduction I would ask you whether you’ve asked yourselves about some of the legends and stories related to them. No?! Okay, then. I will tell you a few things about their origin.
Let us start with pasta and spaghetti that are sacred to the Italians. They are even often nicknamed as “Spaghetti Men” because they consume them (and pasta in general) once or sometimes even twice a day. But where did spaghetti come from? According to the legend, Marco Polo brought them from China in 1295. Another interesting fact is that in 1226 the Arabs had a type of meal similar to lasagna. And they carried it over to the Sicilian cuisine. In fact, the Sicilians were masters in preparing and cooking pasta for centuries. It was spread soon on the mainland and in the world.
As for the history of pizza, I should begin with this. Italian cuisine was influenced by the different peoples that passed through its territory and left their recipes and tastes. Speaking about pizza, the Ancient Greeks consumed bred covered with cheese and herbs and of course, herbs. On the other hand, the Egyptians, the Etruscans and the Romans had and prepared a round, flat and very thin type of bread (focaccia). In the Renaissance, la focaccia was mainly for the poor that consumed it at the end of every meal. Its taste was enriched with tomatoes exported from the New World. Thus the new “American” ingredient managed to turn this flatbread into a preferable meal for the rich as well in the 18th century.
But …. but the glorious history of this focaccia (or I’d better say, of the modern pizza) started only one century later, more specifically in 1899. And what happened exactly? Queen Margherita (or la regina Margherita di Savoia) insisted on trying the pizzas prepared by the famous pizzaiolo (pizza maker) from Naples whose name was Raffaele Esposito. He did his best and made a special pizza in her honour. It bore the colours of the Italian flag, i.e. green (basilico), white (mozzarella) and red (pomodori, i.e. tomatoes). Of course, this pizza was named after the Queen and since then it’s been supposed to be among the most traditional pizzas.
Have you already got hungry? 😉 If you have, head off for the nearest ristorante italiano (Italian restaurant), trattoria (let me call it tarvern) or osteria (tavern especially for young people). Buon appetito ….. 🙂