Pizza has been around since the 10th century. The earliest mention of the word “pizza” comes from the Codex cajetanus, a collection of ancient documents that refer to the southern Italian town of Gaeta. A document circa 997 AD mentions that the bishop of Gaeta was to receive 12 pizzas every Christmas and 12 pizzas every Easter Sunday from the tenant of an (unspecified) property. I do hope that the bishop was the landlord and the 24 pizzas per year were part of the payment for the use of the property. Otherwise, it just sounds so exploitative.
But, anyway… Pizza as we know it today is descended from the pizza made in Naples, Italy since the 18th century. Variations evolved through the years but Naples has always been protective of the authenticity of its pizza. In 2010, Neapolitan pizza was granted “Traditional Speciality Guaranteed” status by the European Union.
To be considered authentic Neapolitan pizza, a pizza must be prepared and baked following strict guidelines that include the use of “00” flour, San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo mozzarella cheese; the preparation of the dough; the thickness of the crust; the use of a wood-fired oven; the baking temperature; and the length of the baking time, among others.
If a pizza lacks one or more of these characteristics, it may be pizza but it’s not Neapolitan pizza.