From Chicago deep dish to New York-style pizza, this Italian-American food has become a favorite across the United States and around the world. With so many varieties of pizza in existence today, you may wonder about the origins of pizza dough.
Where did pizza dough come from? How has it evolved into the pizza we know today? Why do we call it “pizza”? Let’s take a look at the answers to these questions as we dig into the origins of pizza dough.
Where did pizza originate?
Exactly who invented the first pizza is often debated. However, we know that the basic pizza form of seasoned flatbread can trace its history back to ancient Mediterranean civilizations. The Phoenicians and Greeks, as well as other cultures in the area, made flatbread from water and flour. They cooked this dough on a hot stone, then used herbs to add flavor.
This early form of pizza was called “plankuntos” by the Greeks. It was actually created more as a functional tool than a food—they used it as a plate to hold broth or stew. Then, once these runny foods were eaten, the plate could be eaten as well. This form of pizza was more like a modern focaccia bread than what we call pizza today, and it was popular throughout Rome, Egypt and Babylon.
Why do we call it pizza?
As with the invention of pizza, the origin of the term itself is also up for debate. We believe it has its roots in the Latin word “pinsa,” which means “flatbread.”
How did the modern pizza evolve?
Over the years, pizza began to evolve to take on more of the modern form of the food we eat today. The flatbreads from the ancient Mediterranean era started to look more like our modern pizza around the Middle Ages. At that time, it was a popular peasant food. The peasants still flavored the dough with olive oil and herbs, but they topped it with whatever ingredients they could find or afford.
When did pizza come to the United States?
Immigrants from Naples are thought to be the ones we can credit for bringing the tradition of pizza to the U.S. as they arrived here in the late 1800s. As for commercial pizzerias, one of the earliest establishments documented in the U.S. is G. Lombardi’s in Manhattan, which opened in 1905. However, unlicensed vendors were selling pizza slices on the streets of New York before official pizzerias were opened.
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