Founded around 600 B.C. as a Greek settlement, Naples in the 1700s and early 1800s was a successful waterside city. Technically an independent kingdom, it was well-known for its crowds of working poor, or lazzaroni. "The closer you got to the bay, the more dense their population, and much of their living was done outdoors, often in homes that were bit more than a space," said Carol Helstosky, author of "Pizza: A Global History" and associate professor of history at the University of Denver.
Unlike the rich minority, these Neapolitans required affordable food that could be taken in quickly. Pizza-- flatbreads with different garnishes, consumed for any meal and sold by street vendors or casual dining establishments-- met this requirement. "Judgmental Italian authors typically called their eating practices 'horrible,'" Helstosky noted. These early pizzas consumed by Naples' bad included the tasty garnishes cherished today, such as tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies and garlic.
Italy unified in 1861, and King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889. Legend has it that the taking a trip set became bored with their consistent diet plan of French haute cuisine and requested a variety of pizzas from the city's Pizzeria Brandi, the follower to Da Pietro pizzeria, founded in 1760. The variety the queen delighted in most was called pizza mozzarella, a pie topped with the soft white cheese, red tomatoes and green basil. (Perhaps it was no coincidence that her preferred pie included the colors of the Italian flag.) From then on, the story goes, that particular topping mix was called pizza Margherita.
Queen Margherita's true blessing might have been the start of an Italy-wide pizza craze. And yet, until the 1940s, pizza would stay little recognized in Italy beyond Naples' borders.
An ocean away, however, immigrants to the United States from Naples were replicating their trusty, crusty pizzas in New York and other American cities, including Trenton, New Haven, Boston, Chicago and St. Louis. The Neapolitans were coming for factory tasks, as did countless Europeans in the late 19th and early 20th centuries; they weren't seeking to make a culinary statement. However reasonably rapidly, the flavors and aromas of pizza began to interest non-Neapolitans and non-Italians.
The very first documented United States pizzeria click here for more was G. (for Gennaro) Lombardi's on Spring Street in Manhattan, licensed to offer pizza in 1905. (Prior to that, the meal was homemade or purveyed by unlicensed suppliers.) Lombardi's, still in operation today though no longer at its 1905 area, "has the very same oven as it did initially," noted food critic John Mariani, author of "How Italian Food Conquered the World."
Debates over the finest slice in town can be heated, as any pizza fan learn more knows. Mariani credited 3 East Coast pizzerias with continuing to churn out pies in the century-old custom: Totonno's (Coney Island, Brooklyn, opened 1924); Mario's (Arthur Avenue, the Bronx, opened 1919); and Pepe's (New Haven, opened 1925).
As Italian-Americans, and their food, moved from city to suburban area, east to west, particularly after World War II, pizza's appeal in the United States grew. No longer seen as an "ethnic" treat, it was increasingly identified as a fast, fun food. Regional, extremely non-Neapolitan variations emerged, ultimately consisting of California-gourmet pizzas topped with anything from grilled chicken to smoked salmon.
"Like blue denims and rock and roll, the rest of the world, consisting of the Italians, selected up on pizza simply since it was American," explained Mariani. International outposts of American chains like Domino's and Pizza Hut likewise grow in about 60 various nations. Helstosky thinks one of the quirkiest American pizza variations is the Rocky Mountain pie, baked with a supersized, doughy crust to save for last.
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