Pizza has existed in one form or another since prehistory, when bread was cooked on flat stones. Later on the Neapolitans cooked focaccia. Flatbreads such as this could be cooked easily around a fire, carried by workers in the fields and were cheap to produce. There were many precursors to pizza, which really came into being when the tomato was brought from the New World to Europe in the late 1600s. The addition of mozzarella and basil occurred as a patriotic gesture when Don Raffaele Esposito decorated a pizza in this way to represent the colours of the Italian flag (red, white and green) in honour of the visit of Queen Margherita, Queen of Savoy, in 1889. Neapolitan emigrants took pizza to the United States with them and set up shops for selling them. Pizza Hut was founded in the 1950s and there are now said to be 62,000 pizzerias in the US.
There is a womderful Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, fighting to maintain the purity of the original pizza and its ingredients. It sets out strict rules about the dimensions, qualities of the crust, the methods of preparation and production. I think I have only once eaten a pizza which has complied with all their requirements and it was worth the journey.
In Italy it is traditional not to serve salad with pizza.
In 1997, when the UK had the presidency of the then European Union, Downing Street asked 30 school children to design the logo for the year. A huge diplomatic row was caused because the children used a pizza to represent Italy. At the time, Romano Prodi made a public complaint against Tony Blair after seeing the logo on a commemorative tie.
Pizza may also refer to a pie often made with yeast dough, cake or any flatbread.