It was a fascinating journey to take a five-city tour of the Northeast. The region is the birthplace of Italian immigrants in America, along with Albanians, Lebanese and Greeks.
From the 1860’s on, waves of dislocated, impoverished southern Italians embarked on a decades-long diaspora to America and elsewhere. Their 3,000 mile exodus from Italy to the U.S. transformed our culture forever, and included the introduction of an ethnic street food that was once obscure: pizza.
Originated in ancient Greece, likely derived from pita and describing baked flatbreads with various spreads through the centuries, pizza (“pie” or “cake” in Italian) as we know it today emerged in Italy’s Campania region following the arrival of the tomato in the mid-1500’s.
After Spanish conquistadors discovered the indigenous “xitomatl” in the Peruvian Andes, Columbus and other explorers introduced it to Europe. According to another account, the Viceroy from Peru gave tomato seeds to King Napoli. In any case, the planting of il pomodoro San Marzano – the official tomato for Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana – or True Neapolitan Pizza Association – in the volcanic dirt surrounding Mount…