Food Fit For A Queen

MargheritaPizza     Velvety cheese, rich tomato sauce, and a warm crunchy crust…you know what I’m talking about – it’s Margherita pizza. We all know it, we all love it, and it is definitely one of those comfort foods that is hard to resist .Happy is a word comprised of five letters, pizza also has five letters, and I assure you this is no coincidence. Margherita pizza is a masterpiece that deserves respect and recognition. I find the history behind Margherita pizza quite interesting, and I’m going to be pompous enough to believe that you’ll share my convictions.

There is one particular account that is considered the official origin of margherita pizza but traces of pizza goes back all the way to the Neolithic age. There are many records of attempts at making bread more flavored throughout history. For example, the Ancient Greek made Plakous, a flat bread that was topped with spices and herbs. Even the famous Latin poet Virgil refers to bread as an important food and as a basis for other types of food. A more specific description of what seems to be pizza can be found in the book “Customs and Traditions of Naples” where it is mentioned that in the year 1866 one of the most popular bread toppings was tomato and basil covered in mozzarella cheese.

However, the story that has sparked the most interest and has brought the fame to margherita pizza is none other than that of Queen Margherita of Italy. Margherita Giovanna was the queen of Italy from 1878-1900 through her marriage to King Umberto I. In the year of 1889, King Umberto and Queen Margherita were taking a tour through the Italian lands, 29 years after the country’s unification. As they went from one city to another, the Queen from Savoy noticed the reoccurrence of bread with exotic and colorful toppings as a favorite among the peasants. Attracted by the sight of the peculiar bread and curious about why it was so popular, the Queen requested that one of her guards bring her one, and of course she loved it (big surprise?).

The peasants called the delicacy “pizza bread” and it didn’t take long for the Queen to classify it as her favorite food. It did not bother the Queen that it served as the main course for the lower class of society, but her views about pizza were not shared by those around her. The Queen was often criticized for her open indulgence and consistent devouring of “pizza bread”; she did not care much about hiding her passion and would even be seen eating pizza in court.

Consequently, Raffaele Esposito, a famous Italian pizza maker legitimized the Queen’s love for pizza when he created Margherita pizza, a pizza with a topping made in the honor of the Queen. Margherita pizza consisted of tomato sauce with basil along with mozzarella cheese – the ingredients chosen specifically to represent the Italian flag. It is not certain, but according to the legend, Esposito was also the man to introduce cheese to pizza. Doesn’t that make him your new favorite character from history?

You can add meat or vegetables to your pizza, but you can’t deny that nothing beats margherita pizza. There may be references to pizza and flavored bread with toppings throughout history, but it was thanks to Queen Margherita of Savoy (and of course Raffaele Esposito) that pizza, particularly margherita pizza became famous and one of our top food choices.

 

By Bery Majeed

Sulaimani, Kurdistan

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