History of pizza – an important primary source

Are you sitting there, wondering where pizza came from? Most culinary books and popular introductions to Italian culture name one Raffaele Esposito as the creator of modern pizza. At the very least, this citizen of Naples supposedly came up with a combination of mozzarella, basil and tomatoes, thus matching the three colors of the Italian flag. Having been devised at the request of Queen Margherita, this particular set of toppings quickly became known under Her Majesty’s name. The year was 1889. Some even claim that Esposito was the first to use cheese on pizza! Seriously, how did they manage before 1889?

OK, sources indicate that cheese and tomato were definitely used as pizza toppings prior to 1889. The evidence, for example, comes from by Alexander Dumas. The great French novelist was a true connoisseur of European foods. As a matter of fact, he was most proud of being the author of the 1000-plus page  Grand dictionnaire de cuisine. In one of his travel accounts, Dumas published a list of pizza topings popular in Naples: oil, bacon, lard, cheese, and small fish. What are the chances that nobody ever combined at least cheese and tomato? In my humble opinion, this would have indicated the birth of pizza as we know it.


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