I wish for a pizza tonight…

Yes, you guessed right, our new article will be savory! In our new article we launch our savory section by making pizza with handmade dough and Greek products and learning its history over time…

While doing our research, we read in History Today that the history of pizza is linked to immigration, the economy and technological developments. Its origins go back to antiquity, as it is mentioned in the Aeneid of the ancient Roman poet Virgil, when hero Aeneas and his crew use thin wheat pies as dishes for their food. In fact, when they consumed these early pizzas at the end of the meal, Aeneas’ son exclaimed “Look! We’ve even eaten our plates!”.

Ancient Roman pizza with cheese, honey and sesame seeds (source)

On the website of the History channel we read that a type of pizza was enjoyed in antiquity by both the Egyptians and the Greeks. The Greeks even flavored their early pizzas with olive oil and herbs.

According to History Today, pizza took its current form in Naples at the end of the 18th century. At that time the population of the city had become very large, due to internal migration and trade mobility, and a large part of the population had fallen into poverty. Constantly looking for work, people needed a fast food that would be easy to consume. So, pizza came to satisfy this need. The pizzas were not sold in stores, but by street vendors, who cut them into pieces of whatever size each customer wanted to buy.

Street vendor, Naples, circa 1911 (source)

Pizzas in Naples were made with cheap ingredients, which gave a lot of flavor. The simplest ones simply had garlic, lard and salt. Others contained cheese or basil. Some even had tomatoes on top, although, as we read, the tomatoes were considered poisonous. The poor Italian workers took a risk and gave us the tomato sauce as the inseparable match of pizza dough.

At that time pizza was associated with the poor and the high society often described it as disgusting. This seems impressive today that pizza has become a favorite delicacy worldwide! As we learned from History Today magazine, telegraph inventor Samuel Morse described pizza as “species of the most nauseating cake”!

Elsewhere we read that the treatment of pizza changed when at the end of the 19th century the king and queen of Italy invited the most capable cooks to their palace to prepare this famous meal of the poor. Da Pietro Pizzeria’s Raffaele Esposito made a pizza in their honor with the colors of the Italian flag, with cheese, tomatoes and basil. The royal couple was thrilled! The queen’s name was Margherita and the pizza got her name, which it retains to this day.

Pizza Margherita in the colors of the Italian flag.
The Queen of Italy Margherita (source)

We also read that when the aristocracy tried pizza they could no longer resist it! The first store in Italy opened in 1830, and a number of others followed. At the pizzerias the customers could choose the ingredients they would like to put on their pizza.

The fame of pizza skyrocketed when the Americans discovered it. In 1905, an Italian immigrant, Gennaro Lombardi, opened the first pizzeria in the United States, a small shop somewhere in New York. Until then, pizzas were made at home or by vendors who did not have a legal license. The success of the store was great and so other Italian immigrants opened pizzerias too.

The pizzeria of Gennaro Lombardi (source)

The movements of Italian immigrants, especially after World War II, made pizza popular throughout the United States. From being an ethnic delicacy pizza was slowly becoming our well-known and favorite fast food. People who were not necessarily of Italian origin opened pizzerias. The flavors were adapted to each place and its eating habits. In California, they even made their own gourmet versions with everything one can imagine, from chicken barbeque to smoked salmon.

We also learned that after World War II, American soldiers wanted to enjoy the pizza they had tasted in Europe. One of the veterans, Ira Nevin, invented a pizza oven called “Baker’s pride”. This invention further ignited the prevalence of pizza, as traders could now bake pizzas easily and cheaply, without the need for charcoal or wood.

Thomas Nixon, president of Baker’s pride, makes a pizza baked at his company’s testing area. Photo from a 1995 newspaper article. (source)
A modern Baker’s pride oven (source)

According to the book Italian Americans (2017), thanks to the Bake’s pride oven people with few means and experience were able to take advantage of the growing reputation of pizza. Companies started making square paper boxes for pizza and in 1948 packaged pizza mixes were released in supermarkets. A few years later, in 1957, the Celentano Brothers launched the first frozen pizza on the market. From there, the shops multiplied, the now well-known chains got created and pizza became the ultimate -although usually unhealthy- fast food.

We are very happy that pizza has gone through all this historical course and has reached our time to be the absolutely favorite delicacy worldwide! So it’s time to make our own homemade pizza with fresh ingredients from our kitchen.

Our recipe

Homemade pizza with Greek products

Ingredients for the dough for homemade pizza

Flour type 00500 gr
Instant dry yeast8 gr
Water (lukewarm)about 300 ml (you will add it gradually)
Extra virgin olive oil1 tbs
Salt1/2 tsp
Sugar1/4 tsp
Dry herbs (oregano, mint etc.)1/2 tsp of each
Flour, yeast, sugar, salt and water, and dry herbs for taste and aroma!

How to make homemade pizza

In a bowl add the dry yeast to the flour and stir.
Add 1/2 tbs salt and 1/4 tbs sugar. Be careful that the salt does not come into direct contact with the yeast, because it prevents its action!
Add your dry herbs.
Add the extra virgin olive oil and some water and start mixing with a fork.
When the ingredients are incorporated, start kneading by hand.
Add the water little by little and knead until a nice, elastic dough is formed. If the dough sticks to the hands, add more flour, little by little, as needed. If the dough is very hard, add as much water as needed, little by little. The dough does not need much kneading, about 5 minutes.
Divide your dough in two.
Make two round doughs.
Put your dough in a bowl and sprinkle with flour.
Close the bowl well with a slightly damp towel and set it aside to rise for at least an hour.
When the time is up, roll your dough with a rolling pin into thin sheets.
Place your sheets in pans, on parchment paper. If you want you can turn the edges inwards.
Then, spread your dough with tomato juice and sprinkle with 1/2 tbs sugar.
Season with salt, pepper, dry herbs, curry, dried garlic or whatever else you like.
Our pizzas will have mainly Greek products: two types of cheese -Naxos graviera and emmental-, Pitsilias ham, siglino (smoked pork) from Mani, fresh tomato, red peppers, Greek mushrooms and rocket leaves.
Grating the cheese on top of our pizza.
If you want to bake the rocket leaves together with the pizza, it is good to grease it a little. Otherwise add it raw, after the pizza gets baked.
Bake your pizzas for 12-15 minutes in a preheated oven at 200°C in the fan mode.
Once the pizzas are cooked, take them out of the oven and add fresh rocket leaves on top.
A tower of pizzas from Eat Dessert First Greece!

Enjoy everyone!

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5 Comments Add yours

  1. Choi says:

    PIZZA IS LIFE.

    Like

    1. We agree!! 🙂🙂🍕🍕🍕

      Like

  2. Halbarbera says:

    A PIZZA to die for!

    Like

    1. Hahaha thank you so much! 🙂🙂🙏🙏

      Liked by 1 person

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