It is rare to find a European city that arrives as a tourist or on business and does not realize that it has been ‘cuisine occupied’ by Italians. It’s so versatile that it’s equally satisfying to serve in a cathedral of taste buds or a small pub lost in the hustle and bustle of a side street. On the menu of any restaurant, almost every type of pizza is named after the ingredients used: caprese, prosciutto crudo, salami and ricotta, mortadella… only one is mysterious, The name does not disappoint any ingredient: Pizza Margherita.
Historians of Italian cuisine believe that pizza becomes a margherita only by using tomato/tomato juice, fresh mozzarella, basil leaves, copious amounts of olive oil, and hand-spreading the pizzaiolo on a 3mm-thick top. and bake in a wood-burning oven at 485°C for exactly 90 seconds. After baking, the edges of the dough will rise 1-2 cm. More even no less!
Legend has it that Margherita di Savoia (Margherita Maria Teresa Giovanna), Queen of Italy, traveled to Naples with King Umberto I in 1889 and asked her to make several types of pizza for her, having grown tired of French cuisine. Raffaele Esposito, owner of the Neapolitan tavern “Pizzeria di Pietro Ebas Tacosi” (Pietro’s Pizzeria and only) is considered the creator of the name “Pizza her Margherita”. Italians are usually prepared from scraps found in pantries rather than from select ingredients. It was introduced to Americans as a kind of round, flat cake with seasoning.
in the colors of the Italian flag
Since the garlic topping (often used in local cuisine) could not be served to members of the royal family, Esposito and his wife decided to prepare three variations of the popular “pitta”. (tomatoes, small fish, spices) and pizza alla mozzarella (tomato sauce and mozzarella). Just before serving, this last version was improved by adding a few fresh basil leaves (the colors will be red-white-green, the colors of the unified Italian flag). The poor man’s menu was appreciated by the Queen, who was especially pleased with the simplest option at the end. decided to change the name of “Alla Mozzarella” to “Margherita”.
Even though the popularity of this dish increased significantly after the Queen’s visit, pizza made with the same ingredients (tomatoes, mozzarella and basil) was already in Italy 100 years ago, according to the first records from 1796-1810. consumed by humans. And since slices of fresh cheese (Fior di latte) were placed in the shape of petals, the name “Margherita” (daisy) would have been a natural choice.
Queen Margherita’s name not only inspired one of the most delicious dishes in European culinary history, but also the city of Margherita di Savoia in Apulia (Italy), the mining town of Margherita in Assam (India) and the mountains of Stanley. It also inspired the name of Margherita Peak. (highest mountain in Africa).
This article appeared in issue 231 of Historia magazine and is available digitally at paydemic.com.