Flatbreads have been baked since Neolithic times, with many examples from the ancient Mediterranean world surviving today. These include Greek ‘pita’, ‘focaccia’ which dates back to the ancient Etruscans, ‘lepinja’ in the Balkans and ‘coca’ from Catalonia and Valencia.
Similar flatbreads are also found elsewhere in the world including the ‘naans’ and ‘rotis’ of India and Finnish ‘rieska’.
As early as the 16th century, a ‘galette-style’ flatbread was being sold on the streets of Naples to the poor, and was referred to as a pizza. The word itself was first documented in 997AD in Gaeta, Italy; and subsequently across much of Central and Southern Italy.
But what really transformed it into something more recognisable as a modern pizza was the addition of tomatoes following their introduction into Europe from South America in the 16th century.
At that time, many in Europe believed the tomato to be poisonous as it is a member of the nightshade family, but at some point the poor of Naples added them onto their pizzas. The delicious result became a tourist attraction for Naples as visitors ventured into the poorer areas to try this local speciality which was being sold from open-air stands and pizza bakeries.
The first Margherita pizza was baked in Naples in 1889 to honour the visiting Queen of Italy, Margherita of Savoy. The green basil, white mozzarella and red tomatoes mirroring the colours of the Italian flag.
For many Italians, there are only two ‘pure’ pizzas: the Margherita and the Marinara with its topping of tomato, oregano, garlic and olive oil.
Pizzas have since spread around the world with diverse styles and a myriad of different toppings.
For many, the best tasting pizzas are baked in a wood-fired oven. These can now be baked and enjoyed at home without the need to build a dedicated brick pizza oven. The portable Grenadier ceramic pizza oven delivers the high temperatures needed to give your pizzas that distinctive wood-fired flavour.
But don’t take our word for it, read an independent review of this outdoor pizza oven.