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I thought it would be interesting to trace the history of the pizza in this section of Pizza South Yarra. I will also be talking about the wide reach of pizzas all over the world and share some interesting stuff that you may never have even heard of or tasted in all your pizza-eating life!
No one seems to know where exactly pizzas originated. Was it Italy? Greece? Egypt? In the first century B.C., Virgil, the famous Roman poet, first mentioned the pizza in his poem ‘The Aenid’. There is also some talk about flat bread baked by Persian soldiers on their shield in the field in the sixth century B.C. They would then top it with dates and cheese. The Egyptians also made some kind of flatbread and so did the Indians and called them ‘naan’ but as these two did not have toppings, I am not sure if you can call these pizzas. The Greeks too had their own flat bread which they called ‘plakountos’ and loaded it with toppings.
The only thing we can be sure of is that pizza was definitely made in Italy considering the number of pizza ovens seen everywhere in Italy.
The best thing about pizza is that it has adapted to various cultures and taste buds even as its popularity spread all over the globe. There are several good books on the history of the pizza. The one, which has some very interesting information is Carol Helstosky’s ‘Pizza: A Global History’.
The 20th century saw a proliferation of pizza chains and outlets opening all over the world. The interesting thing about it was that not one pizza matched in taste with its counterpart in another country. Each country added or subtracted some ingredient to suit their taste. The original pizza seems to have evolved beyond recognition.
Here I have covered some snippets on pizzas from all over the world:
The typical Australian pizza is made of a base liberally covered with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce and topped with unusual stuff like bacon, eggs, and even prawns. Australian pizzas have gone the gourmet way with such exotic ingredients like tiger prawns, emu, salmon, etc.
Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, claims to be the Pizza Capital of the World with its 6000+ outlets churning out more than a million pizzas every day! The typical Brazilian pizza is the Neapolitan with a thick dough base.
Several branded pizza outlets and smaller local pizza joints have mushroomed all over urban India and even in some smaller towns. Indian pizzas generally have more ‘pizzazz’ with the liberal sprinkling of spices and peppers, and topped with exotic chicken dishes like Tandoori chicken. Vegetarian pizzas are a rage here and come with ‘paneer’ or cottage cheese toppings and other Indian flavours. The traditional western style pizzas also go down well with the Indian pizza connoisseur.
Although pizzas came to Pakistan at least three years before it entered India, it didn’t quite take off as much as it has in India. But, strangely, Pakistan boasts the largest pizza outlet in the world with a seating capacity of a whopping 5000 people and the revenue generated from pizza sales was $2 billion dollars in 2009! This only goes to show that the demand for pizzas is there but there are very few outlets.
The Italians brought pizzas into America in the late 19th century and the turn of the century saw pizza outlets mushrooming in different parts of America. It is said that the pizza was originally known as the ‘Tomato Pie’ in America. It was in the mid 20th century when songs were being sung about pizzas and celebrities were gushing over pizzas, that the American public actually sat up and noticed the pizza. It has since taken on different shapes and sizes, and crusts, and fillings, and toppings, and the frozen pizza was introduced. Not surprisingly, the United States generates the highest revenue in pizza sales in the whole world.
Pizzas have evolved through the years and going by their history, they haven’t reached the end of the road yet. I wish I could be around to see what other delicious pizzas will spring up a few centuries down the line. Who knows? ‘Pizza South Yarra’ may still be around to keep the growing pizza crazy population updated on the latest pizza offerings from around the world, if not the universe! Thanks for visiting Pizza South Yarra!