Pizza Margherita, an Italian national treasure

pizza margherita

In a lot of ways, Italy isn’t just one country. It’s actually twenty little countries.

As you travel through Italy’s twenty regions (as many of you are doing or will do this summer), you quickly recognize that in every region, the language, food, and customs are different.

There’s an old saying: the only time Italy is a united country is when its national soccer team is playing.

But there’s another thing that unites Italians from every walk of life: pizza.

And while every region has its own take on the traditional pizza recipe, you’ll find the famous Pizza Margherita at every pizzeria in every Italian city and town, no matter how small.

Some Italians — no matter where they’re from — insist that the Margherita is the only pizza they’ll eat because it’s the only “true” pizza.

Much has been written about the Pizza Margherita and its origins. While there is some disagreement as to when it was first invented, everyone agrees that it is made using buffalo’s milk mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil.

In what is possibly the longest and most tedious recipe ever written, the formula for the Pizza Margherita was officially codified in 2009 when the European Union awarded the Pizza Napoletana Traditional Specialty Guaranteed status (Pizza Napoletana TSG must be made using either tomato/mozzarella/oregano or tomato/mozzarella/basil, the latter combination being the Pizza Margherita).

Here’s the link for the official EU description of the pizza and how it must be made.

It’s ten pages long!

A few years ago, the Italian government released a study revealing that pizza is the most popular Italian word beyond Italy’s borders.

And it’s no wonder: this simple, humble dish — made from flour, water, salt, mozzarella, tomatoes, and basil/oregano — seems to speak every language in the world.

So when you head to Italy for your next visit, before you order a regional specialty pizza (which might be equally delicious), be sure to first try a Pizza Margherita — where it all began.

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