24 July 2017
Italian etiquette 101 - Ordering coffee before or with a meal. What horror! Coffee is seen as a way to help you digest your meal, so drinking it alongside is seen as misguided…even dangerous. If you must have a caffeine hit before a meal duck around the corner for a quick espresso at a nearby café.
Pizza did not originate in Italy and is not an Italian creation. It was the Greeks who first baked the large, round and flat breads which they sprinkled with oil, herbs, spices and dates. In the 18th century, the flat bread eventually found its way to Italy where they were called “Pizzas” and were sold on the streets and in the markets. They were not topped with anything and eaten plainly. They were cheap to make and very filling, they became a staple for the poor who purchased the bread which was sold all over Naples by street vendors.
The acceptance of the tomato by the Neapolitan's and the visit of a Queen contributed to the Pizza as we know it today. In 1889, Queen Margherita and her husband, Umberto I, were touring their Italian Kingdom. During their travels, the Queen saw many people eating this large, flat bread. Curious, the queen ordered her guards to bring her one of these Pizza breads. She loved the bread and would eat it every time she was out amongst the people, which the Palace was not pleased about. A Queen should not be dining on food fit for the poor. Not one for obstacles, she summoned Chef Raffaele Esposito from his pizzeria and ordered him to bake a selection of pizzas for her pleasure.
To honour the queen, who was much beloved by her subjects, Raffaele decided to make a very special pizza just for her. He baked a Pizza topped with tomatoes, Mozzarella Cheese, and fresh Basil (to represent the colours of the Italian flag: Red, white, and green). This became Queen Margherita’s favourite pizza and when word got out that this was one of the Queen’s favourite foods, she became even more popular with the Italian people. She also started a culinary tradition, the Pizza Margherita, which lasts to this very day in Naples and has now spread throughout the world.