Tom Friedman's pizza sculpture at the Frieze Art Fair on Randalls Island in New York, May 9, 2013. The fair's spacious quarters on Randalls Island feature a strong showing this year. *** Local Caption *** Exposition NEW YORK ART FAIR FRIEZE RANDALLS ISLAND NORTH AMERICA GALLERY

It’s a fascinating slice of history! When Sylvie Sanchez, an anthropologist at the Institut Interdisciplinaire du Contemporain, decided to take on the challenge of retracing the history of pizza, she found herself immersed in “real detective work,” combing through archives, record books, personal experience accounts… Her goal: to understand how an iconic Italian food item conquered the world, becoming absorbed by other cultures. The results of her study, first published 10 years ago, were recently re-released.
When it comes to finding the earliest mentions of pizza, there’s not much to go on. The word appeared in the Neapolitan dialect in the 16th century, but at the time designated a dish consisting of unadorned baked dough, simply daubed with olive oil or lard and called “pizza bianca.” It wasn’t until the end of the next century and the adoption of the tomato, imported from South America, that the “pizza rossa” became the …