Seasonal suppers: The ancient origins of the pizza

Making pizza at home is a great way to show children how raw ingredients become dinner

The toppings of the traditional pizza: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil are all available in Ireland at the moment and making pizza with the kids is a great way to show them how to turn raw materials into food

The toppings of the traditional pizza: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil are all available in Ireland at the moment and making pizza with the kids is a great way to show them how to turn raw materials into food

 

The word pizza first appeared in print in 997 AD in a Latin text originating from the south of Italy. Though no one is sure of the origin of the word, it seems to describe some kind of flatbread baked quickly in a warm oven. The precursor of this ancient pizza was the perhaps the focaccia (panis focacius), a flat bread to which the Romans added olive oil and garlic. However, in spite of flatbread being common to many different cultures, pizza was not something that was prepared in the mediaeval or Renaissance kitchen. Tomatoes were not eaten in Italy until the 18th century.

The modern pizza seems to arise out of Naples in the 19th century as a type of peasant street food. The iconic Margherita was purportedly invented to honour the queen Margherita of Savoy. The now famous pizza maker, Raffaele Esposito, garnished a circular piece of flat bread with tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil to represent the Italian flag. Pizza is a remarkable whole food went made with good ingredients. It is unfortunate that it has fallen foul to mass production and been turned into a junk food.

The toppings of the traditional pizza: tomatoes, mozzarella, and basil are all available in Ireland at the moment and making pizza with the kids is a great way to show them how to turn raw materials into food. For your dough, combine 500g organic white flour, 50ml extra virgin rapeseed oil, 10g yeast, 10g salt and 250ml of water in a food mixer.

When smooth, allow to prove for 30 minutes and then shape in small dough balls. Put some fresh tomatoes through a moulin and season with olive oil, sea salt, and oregano. Roll out your base spread the tomatoes on it. Tear some fresh Toonsbridge mozzarella and place it over the tomatoes. Bake in your oven at its highest temperature until crispy. Tear some fresh basil and scatted over the top. Slice.

There is nothing more satisfying that making your own food. We’ve been baking flat bread for around 7,000 years. We should continue to do so. 

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