THE SURPRISING HISTORY OF MEAT FREE PIZZA

January 18, 2024

Ancient Pizza

We’ve all heard the age-old question, “which came first – the chicken or the egg?” Well, in the case of pizza, the answer would be neither! In fact, one of the world’s oldest pizza’s was entirely vegan.

The progenitor to pizza was focaccia, the Italian flatbread so old that its exact roots are still to be pinpointed. Historians believe that the earliest focaccia recipes were developed by the Estruscans prior to the arrival of the Roman Empire or, possibly even before that, by the Ancient Greeks.

But the practice of adding extra ingredients to bread to make it more flavoursome is by no means exclusive to Italy. Records suggest that the Ancient Persians used their shields to bake flatbreads, that were topped with dates and cheese, while some scholars suggest that the pizza we know today was inspired by Jewish cookies called ‘Pizzarelles’.

Where it may be difficult to pinpoint a single, definitive forebearer to the pizza base, it’s much easier to trace the point at which the modern pizza truly began to take shape. Back in pre-16th century Europe, the tomato was a new and exotic import from the Americas. Somewhat surprisingly, given its proliferation in the modern world, many people distrusted the fruit, belonging as it does to the nightshade family that (in)famously contains several poisonous plants.

Over time tomatoes were recognised not only as being safe, but for the unique flavour they added to traditionally bland foods. In 1700’s Naples, tomato-topped flatbread became commonplace, with tourists travelling to the city to try this new and exciting dish the locals called (yes, you guessed it), ‘pizza’. And the title bestowed upon this creation might sound familiar; the ‘Marinara’, named in honour of the seaside towns resident mariners.

Not only was this a major milestone in the story of pizza, but it won’t have escaped many of you that it didn’t include any cheese. That’s right. The world’s oldest pizza was vegan.

The thought of pizza without cheese probably sounds unappealing to some, but really, a good pizza is defined by three things – the dough, the sauce and the toppings. Most pizza dough is vegan, the sauce can easily be made without the use of animal products and the selection of vegetarian or plant-based toppings is vast.

So whether you’re vegan, vegetarian or a carnivore looking to try something a little different, creating the perfect meat-free pizza is limited only by your imagination.

 Freshly Made Pizza Dough Balls & Pre-stretched Pizza Bases (homemadepizzaclub.co.uk)


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