The Italian Almanac

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pizza margherita

Italian News - September 6

Naples, the city that invented pizza, has lined up the first edition of 'World Pizza Day'. Pizza-makers and lovers from all over the world, including Neapolitans who have rolled dough into big money in the United States, Australia and Japan, will attend the inaugural event on the opening day of the city's famous Pizzafest on Thursday.

Each year Pizzafest turns out hundreds of pizzas made by pizzaioli from all over the world. The only qualification is that they must comply with guidelines laid down by the city's Real Neapolitan Pizza Association (AVPN). The event, now in its eleventh year, draws thousands of locals and tourists to sample pizza "as it should be made" in its "spiritual home".

Although baked dough topped with various ingredients has been eaten round the world for centuries, it was only in the 1700s, after the tomato became an established part of Italian diets, that pizza in its current form really took off. It was particularly popular in poorer quarters of Naples where the cheap, readily available ingredients made it a staple part of the local diet.

News of the city's celebrated pizzas eventually reached the ears of the newly created royal family in 1889. During a stay in Naples' Capodimonte Palace King Umberto I and his wife Queen Margherita summoned a much-talked about local pizzaiolo to the palace to sample his creations.

Raffaele Esposito and his wife Maria Brandi prepared a variety of different pizzas for the royal couple, but the queen's favorite was one topped with tomato, mozzarella and basil. In recognition of the honor bestowed on him, Esposito, whose descendants still run the Brandi Pizzeria in Naples today, named the pizza after the queen.