Pizza: A Neapolitan Story

To coincide with Pizza Day on 17 January, Slow Food Editore has published Pizza. Una Storia Napoletana (Pizza. A Neapolitan story). The book is the work of Antonio and Donatella Mattozzi, who, after the success of their first edition, are back in bookshops with an updated version of their original – this time enriched with new content and a fascinating repertoire of illustrations and reproductions of archival documents, maps, photographs, and unpublished prints.

A fundamental book for anyone interested in learning about the history of pizza – a superstar of the culinary world, which in recent years has been the protagonist of an extraordinary revolution in taste. It provides an understanding of the evolution of an ancient and humble profession like that of the pizza maker, which today has become an intricate combination of craftsmanship, creativity, and entrepreneurship.

From historical research and anthropological curiosities to pizzerias and pizza makers, the authors evoke the atmosphere that existed in Naples between the 18th to early 20th century, through a long story based on precise and accurate archival research and exclusive documentary sources.

The first book, entitled “Una Storia Napoletana. Pizzerie e Pizzaiuoli tra Sette e Ottocento’ (A Neapolitan History. Pizzerias and pizza makers between the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries), was first published by Slow Food Editore in 2009, translated into English as ‘Inventing the Pizzeria. A History of Pizza Making in Naples” for the prestigious Bloosbury Academic in 2015 – bringing Naples and the history of its pizza to universities around the world – and is now presented by Slow Food Editore in a new, revised and expanded version.

In “Pizza. Una Storia Napoletana”, new insights are dedicated to the figure of the pizzaiola, the Italian name for those heroes who make this splendid food. With the acquisition of new documents, the historical narrative of the profession of the pizza maker is re-told up to the first decades of the 20th century. In addition, new curiosities have been added to the history of the Mattozzi family, who in 2022 will celebrate the important milestone of 170 years of uninterrupted activity, beginning with the opening of their first oven in Banchi Nuovi by Michele and Luigi Mattozzi in 1852.

The rich iconography also includes reproductions of important documents such as the ‘Elenco dei pizzajoli con bottega’ (1807), kindly provided by the Naples State Archives; and the first and only existing image of an 18th-century Neapolitan pizzeria, taken from an 1881 English print, hitherto unpublished. The appendix also contains the full edition of the 1858 text by the illustrious philologist Emmanule Rocco, dedicated to the figure of the Pizzajuolo.

A series of details make “Pizza. Una Storia Napoletana” one of the most authoritative texts on the subject, offering the reader a detailed historical overview to help understand how a poor food became established, in Italy and all over the world, as a major culinary cultural expression. An essential volume that celebrates pizza, one of the best-loved and most representative foods of Italy’s food and wine heritage.

Pizza: A Neapolitan Story

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