Pizza is a go-to crowd pleaser of a meal, and with an endless array of topping options, it is an incredibly flexible meal that can be whipped up relatively quickly. The word pizza was first used in AD 997 and is commonly thought to have its origins in focaccia bread that had other toppings added to it.
The modern version of pizza came about in 18th century Naples when tomatoes were introduced to the mix. The pizza of Naples became an early tourist attraction for the city. Pizza was somewhat considered to be a working-class dish but as its tasty notoriety grew visitors to the Italian city actively started venturing into the less luxurious parts of the city in search of this local delicacy.
Today pizza has made its way to many different countries where just about anythingcan now be considered a pizza topping, but the true pizza aficionados of Naples insists that the only true pizzas are marinara and the Margherita. The marinara pizza has toppings of tomato, olive oil, garlic and oregano and was a popular welcome home dish for fisherman coming back from a day of fishing in Naples bay: la marinara means the fisherman’s wife.
The Margherita includes mozzarella cheese and basil leaves with the tomato sauce and is probably one of the best-known pizzas in the world. There is no record of what the original pizza makers would have thought of today topping such as pineapple, tuna and even kale!
Making pizza at home can seem like a daunting task but there are lots of different methods you can use to streamline the process. The biggest obstacle to pizza making for most people is the dough. If you plan on making pizza dough from scratch you will have to wait at least an hour for the dough to rise, not ideal for when you want to whip up a quick meal! The good news is that dough can keep for a long time- up to 3 months in the freezer so why not make a large batch on a day when you have time and then portion out and freeze the dough for use on other days.
Other options include buying pre-made pizza dough with from a local pizzeria or checking if it is available from your local supermarket. Pizza bases are widely available in supermarkets and while they are their own brand of comfort food, it would probably have the makers of the original Nepalese pizzas rolling in their graves!
If you want to make pizza on a regular basis it is worth looking into purchasing a baking stone or salt slab. These are designed to absorb heat and evenly cook the bottom of the crust while allowing the toppings to be evenly cooked by the heat of the oven. Without the stone, you will need to be careful of getting bubbling ingredients at the edges, but cool sauce and raw dough in the middle and bottom of the pizza.