When we think “pizza”, we automatically think “tomato sauce”. And yet, when it was created in Naples in the 16th century, it was white, as we call today the one with a base of fresh cream, for example. It was something basic since the pizza originally is a simple pancake of bread, hence its name which comes from the Greek word “pita”, in other words “pancake of bread”.
Originally, the pizza was a dish of the poor, a kind of insipid bread crepe whose taste we tried to enhance with what we had on hand, coarse salt or pork fat, but not with tomato sauce. Simply because the tomato didn’t exist yet! Finally, it existed in Peru and it had just arrived in Europe, especially in Italy, brought back by explorers. They baptized it “golden apple”, in Italian “pomodoro”, name it still has on the other side of the Alps.
We began to cultivate it little by little and it therefore took a good century for it to spread throughout the country, including the Neapolitan region, and for people to start making sauce. And it took another century, 200 years after the invention of pizza, for it to become a major ingredient, because she was scary.
For a long time, the tomato was not considered edible, because it is from the family of belladonna, plant that was associated with witchcraft and black magic and that could prove deadly. This preconception ended up disappearing, and the tomato sauce became the queen garnish. In June 1889, we created margarita pizza for Queen Marguerite in the colors of Italy: basil for the green, mozzarella for the white and tomato for the red. From there, tomato sauce became the go-to base for the majority 30 billion pizzas produced every year, making it the most consumed dish in the world.
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