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The medieval and Catholic origins of your pizza

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And if you think pizza parties are a recent invention, think again

The first recorded use of the word “pizza” has been discovered in the most unlikeliest of places: in the archives of the Cathedral of Gaeta, in a deed from the year 997. It seems even Catholic bishops from the Middle Ages were fond of a slice.

According to a report in La Republica, Giuseppe Nocca, food culture historian and lecturer at the Formia Hotel Institute, traced the etymology of the word “pizza” back to a deed for the use of a mill and adjoining land belonging to the Catholic Church.

According to the terms of the document, Bernardo, the son of Duke Marino II would pay the Bishop of the Gaeta in pizza:

“Every year on Christmas Day of the Lord, you and your heirs must be paid to us and our successors, by way of rent for the overwritten bishop and without recrimination twelve pizzas (duodecim pizze), shoulder pork and kidney, and similarly twelve pizzas (duodecim pizze ) and a couple of chickens in the day of Holy Easter of Resurrection.” This “pizze” would be a Roman derivation of the Greek pitte, a plural for “pita”, just as in your common pita bread.

As Dr. Taylor Marshall, who alerted us to this discovery, points out, this is also most certainly the first recorded pizza party on record, and probably the first documented delivery as well.

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