If you live in America, chances are high that you’ve had pizza before. But it definitely wasn’t anywhere near the true Italian pizza!
Pizza originated as simple flatbread created by people of ancient Greece, Babylon, Egypt, Israel, and Rome. Some believed that the Jewish Matzoth, a simple type of flatbread, introduced it to Italy. The flatbreads in these times were used as edible bowls and were easily made with just water and flour. Other ingredients were introduced to start making the familiar pizza we know today. Herbs, spices, and olive oil were the first things to be added to the flatbread to give it some flavor. Next was mozzarella cheese from Indian water buffalo. And unlike the cheese we Americans are used to, this cheese is fresh and not dried out. Tomatoes were the last things to be introduced. They were thought to be poisonous at the time and then soon became a “peasant food.” Tomatoes were eventually brought into the aristocratic society and they became a part of this beloved dish soon after.
So what’s so different about the Italian pizza? One was mentioned: the cheese. Most American places used processed cheese in their recipes, while the mozzarella used in Italian pizzas are fresh. The ways the two are cooked are also drastically different. Traditional Italian pizzas are baked in an open wood fire oven, opposed to a regular, electric oven. And last but not least, the toppings vary. In Italy, toppings range from just cheese and spices to vegetables and anchovies, to boiled eggs and bacon. A much wider variety is available for any set of taste buds.
If you ever visit Italy, make sure you don’t leave without trying a true Italian pizza…or two or three or six.