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Deeper understanding (from a pizza)

Apr 13, 2022 | Insights

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A deeper understanding of the story of humanity's quest for meaning and its impact on the world will help bring meaning to your life.
In his remarkable television series, Searching for Italy, actor Stanley Tucci explores Italy to gain a deeper understanding of how Italian cooking reflects Italy’s people, history and culture.

In Naples, he discovers the history and traditions behind the world’s favourite dish – pizza (although the Florentines would argue it was invented in their city, not Naples).

Although the ingredients come from the lush hills surrounding the city, pizza originated in Naples’s ‘darkest, poorest streets’. Its history combines two subjects that get Italians hot under the collar – ‘food and death’.

Truly appreciate pizza by understanding its origins

Naples has always been prone to death. Mount Vesuvius erupts every century, and its power and arrogance are an ever-present reminder that death may be only moments away. It’s always at the back of your mind in Naples.

And the small crowded, and poverty-stricken streets of Naples were a breeding ground for cholera, which is spread by food and water and gave rise to devastating epidemics.

Neapolitans took to eating bread fried in hot oil, which ensured it was cholera-free. It was a small step to the traditional Neapolitan pizza, with its topping of ricotta, provola (smoked cheese), basil and pork fat. Pizza is a little pocket of history. Born out of one pandemic before today’s pizza was invented, pizza sustained Naples and much of the rest of the world during the most recent pandemic.

When the Queen of Italy, Margaret, came to Naples in 1889, she ordered the pizza that came to bear her name – the now world-famous Pizza Margarita.

Traditional cooking tells you the story of a place. More than that, it adds a depth of understanding to the food. Knowing the origins of pizza may not add to its taste, but it does add to its emotional flavour. So, next time you order a takeaway pizza, remember the humble origins of the food and remember that you hold a piece of history and a tale of survival in your hand.

A deeper understanding enhances our experiences.

Of course, the principle that more profound knowledge increases our understanding does not only apply to food. So whether you are exploring your business, a relationship or a place you will be visiting, it’s worth learning about its history and foundations.This particularly applies to our search for meaning. The meaning of life was first explored and debated nearly three thousand years ago. Sages such as Buddha, Jung and Frankl provide deep insights into the meaning of meaning, and studying them will help your own search for meaning.

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