Last night I had a Margherita Pizza for dinner. Yum. And I would like to simply state that I think that this dish is nothing short of Italian Brilliance, possibly that country’s greatest gift to Western Civilisation! Being a Pizza enthusiast I suddenly wondered what the deal with it was and why was it called Margherita?
I Hereby show you my findings.
Pizza in one form or another has been around for centuries, decended from simple MedIterranean flatbreads, the people of Naples had called their simple creations of yeast based bread and paste Pizza long before the thing we buy at the supermarket came along.
In its origional form I don’t think it sounds very appetising, but as time went on the Pizza’s of Naples, cooked by its poorer citizens became a tourist attraction and drew wealthier diners down into the sticks to sample their tasty creations, served by open air vendors, Pizza bakeries or by peddlers. Apparently it was a favourite in winter but it bares little resemblance to what we know as Pizza today. What changed? Well in 1889 the Royal cook Raffael Esposito made three special Pizza’s for the King and his consort Queen Margherita of Savoy. One was a completely new take on the traditional plain pizza, hitherto either topped with a tomato paste (since the 16th century-ish) anchovies or olive oil and presumably that mysterious red paste. It was a pizza made with tomato sauce, olive oil, green basil and Mozzarlla cheese, the vibrant colours on this pie created the illusion of the Italian flag and the Queen enjoyed it so much that not only did cheese become prevalent on all Pizza’s from then on but this favoured creation became known as “The Margherita Pizza” and according to the True Neapolitan Pizza Association, it and the Marinara are the “only” types of Pizza in the world.