On June 11, 1889, Queen Margherita of Italy had a letter composed to thank Raffaele Esposito for making her a pizza with mozzarella, tomato and basil. This photo of the letter is posted in Esposito’s restaurant in Naples, Pizzeria Brandi.
It’s tough to see, but the date in the upper right corner is June 11, 1889. I found the phrases “Raffaele Esposito” and “tomate buonissime” but the rest is a mystery. Please contact me if you can translate it. I can send you some close-up shots.
Queen Margherita was the second queen of a newly unified Italy. By eating a dish so associated with the peasants of Southern Italy, she made an incredible, and probably accidental, political move and earned the support of her country. As word of her taste test spread, so did the dish itself. But recipes changed to suit local customs and ingredient availability, so pizza developed into several localized varieties. This is why the thin and crunchy pizza of Rome is so different from the soft and chewy pizza of Naples.
So eat a pizza with fresh mozzarella, crushed plum tomato and basil to celebrate this historic day!