The Yummy History of the Margherita Pizza
Food historians will tell you that the Italians didn’t invent pizza, the Chinese did. Considering their historical penchant for inventing cool stuff — like gunpowder, fireworks and paper finger traps — who are we to argue? But what passed for pizza in the ancient Chinese empire looked very little like the food we know today. Everything we call pizza can be traced back to Peru, Naples and a desire to please a queen. At V3, we thought you should know the pedigree of your food.
Every tribe on Earth developed some type of flatbread product that usually served as their staple food, especially when wily animals outsmarted hunting parties. Italians ate such fare long before explorers tripped over strange new continents. In the region now known as Peru, European adventurers found the juicy red fruit we call the tomato. As good to eat as to throw at jesters with lame acts, they brought them back for cultivation. Southern Italy proved a great zone for tomato farming, not so great for jesters.
Fast forward a couple of hundred years and zoom into Naples, Italy. Because eye blinks lasted longer than the lunch breaks for the dock workers in this bustling port city, they needed cheap food they could stuff in their faces by hand in a hurry. Flatbreads topped with olive oil and spices not only tasted good, but they also filled the bill for snatch-and-cram nourishment. Taking advantage of the market, many street vendors and informal restaurants offered these so-called pizzas.
Then, in 1889, King Umberto I and Queen Margherita dropped in on Naples, generating some hoopla. Now, food historians aren’t sure if the following legend sprang from a real event or the marketing genius of Raffaele Esposito, owner of Da Pietro pizzeria. Either way, the story goes that the Queen, sick of — or, perhaps, starving from — fine French cuisine, commissioned Esposito to fashion an assortment of pizzas for her to sample. Of the varieties tasted, Queen Margherita delighted in the one baked with tomatoes, soft mozzarella and basil. Her approval lent bragging rights to Esposito, who named the famous dish the Pizza Margherita. This ingredient combination proved so popular that it rapidly spread far past Naples. Italian immigrants to New York introduced it to America. What we might consider a standard pizza descended from the delicious Margherita pizza.
V3 Returns to Pizza Roots
Sadly, the pizza industry in modern times has made a change. So many Frankenfoods, chemical preservatives and “flavor enhancing” additives pass for pizza making these days. At V3, we say “spit that stuff out of your mouth.” By using ingredients as clean as those gathered by Da Pietro, you can, and should, eat true pizza like a 19th-century queen.
Veni, Vidi, Vici! We came (to downtown Pittsburgh), we saw (the masses starving for real and organic food), we conquered (their hunger with our Margherita flatbread pizzas)! Come build your pizza your way at V3 Pizza!