The foreign ingredients of pizza

The foreign ingredients of pizza

When thinking of Italian cuisine, the first thing that might enter your mind is arguably pizza. Yet, if we look at the ingredients that make up a traditional margherita, which are wheat flour, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil and olive oil, surprisingly, only one is actually native to Italy.

I read about this in Pizza: A Global History by Carol Helstosky:

For the most part, ancient and medieval pizzas relied on local ingredients, yet the pizza we know today is a global concoction: wheat came from the Middle East, olive oil and oregano came from the Mediterranean region, the tomato came from South America, basil came from India and the water buffalo (used to make mozzarella cheese) came from Asia.

This serves as a reminder that food is constantly evolving and that without certain events happening, like the discovery of the Americas in the 16th century by Europeans or the agricultural revolution that allowed us to control the production of wheat, the elements of pizza might never have made their way into Italian kitchens.

It is therefore important to remember that what is traditional today might not be tomorrow, so we must embrace new ingredients, foreign traditions and ideas because they might usher in the next big thing.