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Originally published on 9-25-2011
Hello, Class! Welcome to Deep Dish 101.
In LESSON ONE of this course, I need to give you a quick history lesson.
A Very Brief History of Pizza:
* UPDATE 8-10-2023 – as Historians like Peter Regas continue to uncover truths about the history of pizza, I will make efforts to update this page. Some updates will be coming soon…
(featuring too many pieces of information, but possibly not enough, and a ton of run-on sentences, unrelated web-links, and parentheses)
The very first flat breads are thought to have originated thousands of years ago in ancient Egypt, where they spread to, or developed independently in, Pompeii, Rome, Greece (where they take credit for inventing everything), and Persia. Most early pizzas were topped with herbs and oils, cheeses and whatever the baker could find, though none of these flat breads had mozzarella or tomatoes like the pizza we know today. Water buffaloes for making buffalo mozzarella didn’t arrive to Rome or Naples until after the fall of the Roman Empire. Tomatoes, brought to Naples from Peru (via Spain) in the early 1520’s (give or take half a decade), were considered poisonous by many Europeans (depending on who was serving you dinner), and would maintain that questionable status in the culinary world until a New Jersey Colonel ended the debate by eating a whole basket of them in 1820. This didn’t stop the infamous ‘wolf peach’ from being widely used in peasant cooking through the 1500’s and beyond. Over the next few hundred years, peasants were baking pizzas, selling them in bakeries, on street carts and in portable head-mounted tin warming contraptions, and somewhere along the way, adding mozzarella and tomatoes. The popularity of that variation of this delicious disc of divinity started to spread to noblemen and royalty.