Pizza - A Traditional Food Of The Poor?

May 17, 2021

Pizza Traditions

Pizza –  A tradition (the plate of the poor)

The trusty pizza is now a culinary staple across much of the world. It is often the go-to food for take-outs and restaurants. The simple, versatile, tasty pizza is perhaps one of the most favourited dishes around. But until well after WW2 it was pretty much a local poor man’s tradition, often repulsed by the finer classes and those outside of the locality.

Although universally recognised today, for a long time the pizza was Naples’ inexpensive and quick food solution for the working poor during the 18th and 19th centuries. These working poor were likened (in the way they were regarded) to the biblical beggar Lazarus, being known as Lazzaroni.

An account by Carlo Collodi (who wrote The Adventures of Pinocchio) is said to have referenced the pizza as, “…complicated filth that matches the dirt of the vendor.”

Pizza was quick, cheap, and easy to eat on the go. Vendors sold it on the streets satisfying the poor’s need for accessible food, as many lacked the facilities to cook at home.

The pizza was effectively the plate of the poor.

However, in 1889 there was a glimmer of hope for the pizza when King Umberto 1 and Queen Margherita visited Naples. Tired of their regular French cuisine, they wanted to sample something different, something exciting and something local; an assortment of pizzas was prepared. The pizza topped with tomatoes, mozzarella and basil known as pizza alla mozzarella was declared the favourite of the queen, and from that moment it was re-named Pizza Margherita.

The Margherita had the royal seal of approval, and if the pizza was good enough to be consumed by royalty, then surely its rather filthy street food reputation would become much more favourable.

But this was not so, not even royal connections it seemed could help the ‘poor pizza’.

So how did this local speciality of the Lazzaroni establish itself as a firm universal favourite?

Look out for our next blog when we explore the journey of poor man’s plate to favourite food. Pizza after all is now one of the go-to foods for a film, at a restaurant, on a date night, on a late night or at home.

You don’t need to wait until the next blog though to be part of the club.

Homemade pizza club is all about fresh, healthy pizzas designed, created and eaten by you.

We supply all you need to make your perfect sourdough pizza, you supply the fun, the family time or the film.


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