While flatbreads with toppings are common throughout various times in history, Naples lays claim to being the birthplace of pizza.
The essential ingredient was the tomato, native to what we now call Latin America and brought back to the Old World by Spanish explorers in the 16th century. Pizza then developed as a food of the poor, with the tomato adding flavor to the dry bread.
Purists still consider the Marinara – topped with tomato, oregano, garlic and olive oil – to be the only authentic recipe. The Margherita – adding mozzarella and fresh basil to give the colors of the Italian flag – is also accepted as an original, although it is said to date to the 19th century. The story that it was created in the 1880s to honour Queen Margherita has to be taken with a pinch of seasoning.
The Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana, which defines a true Neapolitan pizza, lays down regulations that cover the type of yeast, variety of fresh tomato (only three allowed) and the mozzarella di bufala campana. It is baked quickly at high temperature in a wood-fired oven, which gives a sloppy base usually eaten with knife and fork.
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