Pizza Mami

26 Dec  From bread to the sliced pizza of Rome

By Pizza Mami  In Pizzas

In the beginning was bread…

Nowadays everybody knows that the origins of bread are ancient, going back up to the Neolithic Era. The Ancient Greeks used to prepare a flat bread called plakous, flavoured with aromas such as garlic and onion. The story has it that Darius the Great (521-486 B.C.) used to prepare a cheese and dates stuffed flat bread, and during the 1st century B.C., the poet Virgil used to talk about bread as an edible plate. These kinds of bread, as flat as a pizza, come from the Mediterranean area and they are still with us to this day. The focaccia, for example, dates back to the Etruscans; then we have the coca of Catalunya, Valencia and the Balearic Islands, the Greek or Italian pita and the piadina from Emilia Romagna.

The first pizzas

The first news on pizza as we know it today date back to the end of the 14th century, a soft pizza called “mastunicola”, prepared with basil, lard, cheese and black pepper. The pizza with gianchetti (whitebait), with finely diced fish came along later on. The marriage between dough and tomatoes happened in the middle of the 16th century in the Kingdom of Naples, and pizza became popular among the poorest neapolitans and the noble Bourbons.
It’s well known that the master baker Raffaele Esposito dedicated the pizza Margherita to Queen Margherita of Savoia in 1889. It represented the Italian flag, with white mozzarella, red tomatoes and green basil.
Slowly, the tomato pizza spread throughout all the social classes and in all of the Italian regions, and with it, all the restaurants specialized in its preparation: first, the pizza stalls in front of bakeries, then the pizzerias and trattorias.
Until the beginning of the 20th century, pizza was a unique preparation of Naples, only after WWII it arrived first in northern Italy and then all over the world, thanks to the phenomenon of emigration.
The step from focaccia to pizza is thanks to the tomatoes, that were brought to Europe from America in the 17th century; so we can ironically say that there is something American in pizzas!
Until 1830, the pizza was sold on stalls outside the bakeries.
The experts say that there are only two kinds of pizza: marinara and margherita; the marinara isa the oldest one and it has tomatoes, oregano, garlic, extra-virgin olive oil and basil. It’s called like that because it was eaten by the fishermen, not because it contains fish; the margherita of the baker Esposito, instead, added mozzarella to the aforementioned ingredients.

The sliced pizza of Rome

The sliced pizza was born in Rome in the 50s, after the war. Although we know the period, we do not know the father, as for the pizza margherita. It’s likely that some brave baker of the time decided to offer his clients something different than bread. Of course, the result wasn’t positive from the start; to make its soft and tasty fragrance last longer, after having it on display and reheating it hours after its first cooking, it was necessary to enrich it with water, to avoid it going dry due to the high temperatures of the oven. Anyways, as in the case of the sliced pizza, the absolute first and most loved was the pizza margherita and it took years to get to a high quality product. Currently at MAMI, our sliced pizza place, located near piazza Navona, following the tradition’s lead we have such a wide range of pizzas that most of our gourmand customers try up to five different toppings. We have also seen that many foreigners have become lovers of pizza more of the Italians, maybe because our pizza is not the usual touristy product that you can find in the centre of Rome, but it is a traditional product for those who love high quality street food with high quality ingredients, and a constant research on dough and food pairings finalized to titillate the taste buds.

The properties of pizza

Pizza is a very energetic food, mostly made of complex carbohydrates, fats and proteins. The nutritional value depends on the toppings and condiments used, mostly on fats. Pizza is basically not a fat food and it is also recommended in diets. The glucides of pizza are mostly made of flour starch, the fructose of the tomatoes and the lactose of mozzarella. The fats are the triglycerides of the oil or lard (when used), and of the mozzarella; the monounsaturated fats come from our beloved and inevitable extra-virgin olive oil.
The proteins are in the dough and in the mozzarella, that contains essential amino acids. About the minerals, the tomato is rich in potassium and mozzarella is rich in calcium.

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