The origins of the delicious modern staple are somewhat in dispute. While some historians point to the existence of brick pizza ovens in pre-Vesuvius Pompeii as early as 79 A.D., others argue for its origins as a peasant food in Naples in the late eighteenth century as baked flatbread with tomato toppings. Regardless of when pizza may have been born, it began it’s trek to the North American continent through the hearts and hands of Italian immigrants. These Italians settled all over the country including right here in New Orleans.
Since Pizza debuted in New Orleans in the French Market, courtesy of Sicilian immigrants in the 19th century, it has undergone a diverse array of transformation that are reflective of the transitions New Orleans herself has undergone. As Dr. Beriss mentions in his introduction to our Spring 2014 research, many of these changes reflect a tension between creolization and Americanization of New Orleans food and culture.
Mid-City is a neighborhood rich in pizza and is perhaps one of the most pizza-saturated neighborhoods in town. As of April 2014, there are total of 9 Pizza-serving establishments that currently sling pies to the neighborhood’s pizza-gobbling residents. These establishments run the gamut from traditional Italian-style pie to unique New Orleans inspired pizza, boasting familiar creole flavors in a whole new context.
In the posts that follow, I aim to give readers an in-depth look at Pizza in Mid-City and how it reflects the unique blend of people who are coming together to build and experience New Orleans’ unique culture. I will discuss some of the tensions between locally owned Pizza restaurants and national chains as well as where the various establishments fall on the creolization-to-Americanization spectrum.
posted by Arianna King