Wall painting found in Pompeii does not depict Italian image: NPR

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This photo provided on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, by the Archaeological Park of Pompeii shows the wall of an ancient Pompeian house with a fresco depicting a table with food.

Pompeii Archaeological Park / AP


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Pompeii Archaeological Park / AP


This photo provided on Tuesday, June 27, 2023, by the Archaeological Park of Pompeii shows the wall of an ancient Pompeian house with a fresco depicting a table with food.

Pompeii Archaeological Park / AP

MILAN – A still-life fresco recently discovered at the archaeological site of Pompeii looks like pizza, but it’s not, experts at the archaeological site said Tuesday.

They noted that key ingredients needed to make the iconic Italian dish – tomatoes and mozzarella – were not available when the fresco was painted around 2,000 years ago.

Tomatoes were only introduced to Europe from the Americas a few centuries ago, and some of the histories state that mozzarella went directly to the creation of pizza in nearby Naples. in the 1700s.

Instead the image is believed to be focaccia covered with fruit, including pomegranate and possibly dates, finished with spices or a type of pesto, experts said. In the fresco, it is served on a silver plate with a wine chalice next to it.

The difference between the frugal food served in a luxurious setting, marked by the silver tray, is not unlike today’s pizza, “born as a poor man’s dish in the south of Italy, which has won over the world and is served even in stars. restaurants,” said Gabriel Zuchtriegel, director of the archaeological site of Pompeii.

The ancient Roman city of Pompeii was destroyed in the eruption of nearby Mount Vesuvius in 79 AD The sudden and deadly event left much of the structure intact, embalmed in volcanic ash, and the site is now a major project archaeological site and tourist attraction.

Coldiretti immediately lobbied when the fresco was discovered to promote pizza – created as a quick meal for the working poor – as a national treasure. Today, pizza represents a third of the food budget of foreign visitors and generates a total annual income of 15 billion euros ($16.4 billion) in Italy.

The art of the Neapolitan pizza maker was placed on the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage in 2017, known for the four stages of dough preparation and for being baked exclusively in a wood oven at 485 degrees Celsius (905 degrees Fahrenheit.)

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