Pizza: a taste for the classic or innovative palate.
The most popular Italian specialty in the world is pizza. Simple, versatile and delicious, it has gone around the world as a precursor of Italian gastronomy from generation to generation, which is why UNESCO named it Intangible Heritage of Humanity in 2017. It is a global phenomenon, adaptable to diverse cultures and preferences, which has made it a timeless dish that continues to delight people of all ages. In 1738, the first pizzeria called Port 'Alba was founded in Naples, becoming an iconic establishment. Although the term is recorded in an Italian dictionary until the 19th century.
Of course, it was also favored in the taste of Americans, which is why they celebrate February 9 as National Pizza Day in honor of the classic version: Margarita pizza. Named after Queen Margherita of Savoy. It was one of three special creations that the baker Sposito prepared for her visit in 1889. The monarch chose it as her favorite because it represented the colors of the Italian flag, through the tomato sauce, mozzarella cheese and basil. Little did she know that it would become part of the Italian export menu.
Pizza had its millenary roots in cultures such as the Egyptian with its round bread version covered with honey; or the Greek and Roman consumers of flat bread seasoned with herbs, spices, oil and cheese. However, they were missing an ingredient that would give the distinctive seal to this versatile and delicious dish. I am referring to the tomato, a key ingredient that brought pizza to the version closest to the one we know today. It was brought from America to Spanish and Italian lands in the 16th century, however, it was a century later that it was used by the humbler population of southern Italy.
The origins of pizza were on the shores of Vesuvius in Naples, among the underprivileged population. In the streets, they created a quick and economical meal with tomato added to flat bread with oil and spices. It is worth mentioning that tomato was not used in meals, because it was considered dangerous. Over time, its use and the dish spread throughout the center and north of the country, without social distinctions.
It was Italian immigrants who brought their culinary traditions to North America and elsewhere in the late 19th century. Pizza crossed the Atlantic Ocean to become a phenomenon in two main cities: New York and Chicago. The first, showing variants in its preparation and baking with a thin and crispy dough, became the second pizza capital of the world. In Chicago, the version with thick, deep dough and high edges makes it a local icon.
Its massive popularity came after World War II, thanks to the soldiers who had tasted it in Italy. Then came the visionary emergence of restaurants specialized in the appetizing pizza, expanding them throughout the country as franchises. Concept with which they populated the main world capitals. Of course, it was a great displeasure for the Italians living in the country. And it is understandable, because the experience of tasting an oven baked pizza, with its proportions and preparation time is unparalleled.
Fortunately there are still those who specialize in a traditional and artisanal preparation. Delighting us with the special touch of being cooked in a wood oven, with handmade dough, bathed with exquisite tomato sauce and slow cooked spices, the ingredients of choice and cheese. Light and crunchy please. Mamma mia what a taste ! Of course, in Vallarta and the entire Bay, enjoying this gastronomic feast is a delightful reality.
I better continue, so as not to make you crave for more. It turns out that in family, with friends, at home were the scenarios to enjoy this delicacy of rounded dough covered with tomato sauce. To choose: pepperoni, ham, bacon or mushrooms and cheese, lots of cheese. To give them names and their own personality. Also with home delivery. And of course, there are those who hate the Hawaiian pizza, yes, the one with pineapple that has nothing to do with Hawaii. A daring fusion of sweet and savory flavors. Although at the time it divided opinions, it earned a place in the menus of pizzerias.
By then, pizza had become the first place of preference in fast food. Adding to this achievement the cinema, since it was also a great promoter, contributing to its rooting and prominence at all levels. Being a fact that Italian bakers were the ones in charge of making it part of their gastronomy, celebrities, journalists and leaders of boasting and trying to preserve the traditional style of preparation of his majesty the pizza. The rest of the world, to make it their favorite dish, for its delicious variety and combination of ingredients now, within reach of a few clicks, with the help of technology. Available in the same way, throughout the length and breadth of this tourist region. Even giving it a special date of celebration in the national calendars.
Today, the growing awareness of sustainability and health care has led pizza to reinvent itself. Creating healthier versions of pizzas, with organic ingredients and gluten-free options. The sky is the limit for gastronomic creativity. New ways of cooking, as well as delivering the product more efficiently as the irresistible delicacy it is, conquering palates around the world.
Puerto Vallarta is no excepción, so pizzerias or very Italian corners delight with yesterday and today options of this cosmopolitan dish.
Saturday night, a glass of red wine... Thick, thin or gluten-free dough. What is your favorite ?