Chicago Magazine Dining editor Penny Pollack and Spacca Napoli owner Jonathan Goldsmith discussed the history of pizza at this members-only Culinary Historians of Chicago event.
Scene I: Let There Be Pizza
The history of pizza is about as old as the history of the world, and its beginnings cause about as much debate. The key question is probably: Where did the idea of first putting toppings on bread originate, and why?
Penny Pollack, Dining Editor of Chicago Magazine, and co-author (with Jeff Ruby) of Pizza: The Deep Dish on America's Favorite Food takes center stage. Penny dished out examples of early cultures making primitive pizzas. From there moved to the year 1522 when the tomato made its way to Europe and forever changed the course of pizza history; then on to the next landmark date: June, 11, 1889, when the king of Italy, Umberto I, and his wife, Queen Margherita di Savoia visited Naples and the queen sent for Raffaele Esposito, the pizzaiuolo with a reputation for making the best pizza, a newfangled “peasant” food she had been hearing about. And as the saying goes, the rest is history. Penny then brought the group up to contemporary pizza history by explaining the most popular pizza styles in the U.S. with an emphasis on Chicago's deep-dish and the sudden popularity of thin-crust pizza in the Windy City, “a craze that was set in motionâ€”in my opinionâ€”by Jonathan Goldsmith when he opened Spacca Napoli in 2006,” she said.
Scene II: Meet Chicago's Very Own Pizzaiuolo
Jonathan Goldsmith, Spacca Napoli Chef and Owner, revealed his passion for pizza as he described how he forsook his business career in Chicago and traveled to Italy numerous times to study and be ordained as a Certified Neapolitan Pizza Maker, commissioning third and fourth generation artisans from Napoli to build his oven that is the pizza altar of Spacca Napoli. (The oven is reverrentially adorned with a mosaic of Bisazza glass tile.) And of course he tantalized taste buds with a tasting.
Recorded Saturday, September 26, 2009 at Spacca Napoli Pizzeria.