Pizza is now one of the
most beloved foods on the planet, but it has not always been held in such high esteem. At
its core, pizza is a food intended to be served at informal venues, sold
on the streets to feed the masses, but today it can be found in restaurants
of all varieties. Until 1940, pizza was actually little-known outside
of Naples, but it gained significant popularity in Italy once Queen Margherita
dined on the pie now named for her. This article will explore more of
pizza's history so you can see how it went from being known as the
food of peasants to being one of the most popular foods in the world.
For most people today, pizza must have red sauce, cheese, and a variety
of toppings. However, pizza was created as a more humble offering that
only had a small selection of toppings—often excluding tomatoes
altogether. Pizza began as flatbread, which was topped with whatever was
affordable and available.
In 1889 King Umberto and Queen Margherita visited Naples, where the queen
dined on the local cuisine as a departure from the French haute cuisine
she was accustomed to. A variety of pizzas were served to her, but her
favorite by far was topped with tomatoes, basil, and fresh mozzarella—each
topping representing a section of the Italian flag. From this point, pizza
became a staple of Italian cuisine.
While Italy embraced pizza as a national dish, it took some time to gain
popularity in the United States. Italian immigrants brought pizza to American
cities, but it was not until the end of WWII that the food became a staple
of American dinner tables. Now each region has its own unique take on
pizza, including the iconic thick-crust deep dish famous in Chicago.
Now pizza has become so well-traveled that you do not have to fly to Chicago
to sink your teeth into deep dish pizza.