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What is the origin of pizza?

The common belief is that Italians invented pizza, but its origin goes back to ancient times in the Middle East. Babylonians, Israelites, Egyptians, Armenians, Greeks and Romans, and other ancient cultures ate flat, unleavened bread cooked in mud ovens. The Greeks, Romans, and Egyptians were eating the bread topped with olive oil and native spices (what is today called focaccia). But Italy's version of the dish, especially from Naples, is the one we are familiar with - with tomato, cheese, and other toppings and seasonings. Supposedly, this pizza was first created by the baker Raffaele Esposito in Naples. His creation was immediately a favorite, and Esposito was called to make a pizza for the visit of King Umberto and Queen Margherita of Italy in 1889. The first known pizza shop was the Port 'Alba in Naples, which opened in 1830 and is still open today. Pizza spread to America, England, France, and Spain but it was little-known in these countries until World War II. In occupying Italian territory, many American and European soldiers tasted pizza. In America, Italian immigrants sold pizza in their stores and the first pizzeria was opened in 1905 by Gennuardo Lombardi at 53 1/3 Spring Street in New York City. The origin of the word pizza is uncertain. It is Italian for 'pie' and may have come from Latin pix 'pitch' or Greek pitta.

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