English Listening Lesson

Listening level: 4
Audio file: 2:22 min
Story length: 318 words


Here is the listening file for this lesson.



Many people think pizza started in Italy. That’s part of the story, but it’s not the whole story.

The history of pizza begins thousands of years ago.

Ancient people collected wheat and pounded it into small pieces. They added water and cooked it on a hot rock. That was flatbread.

Around 700 BC, the Greeks discovered new ways to prepare and cook flatbread. They made it round and added an outside edge. Oil, onions and garlic were added before cooking. They also used yeast to make the bread easy to eat.

The Romans came up with several improvements, like adding cheese and meat. They also made a thin crust cooked in a wood burning oven.

Ten centuries later, tomato sauce was finally added to flatbread. The tomato first arrived in Europe in the 1530s, but it was rarely used. Many thought it was poisonous.

The people of Naples, Italy were perhaps the first to cook with this round, red fruit. By the 1750s, flatbread with tomato sauce was an essential part of the diet in Naples. By the 1790s, the streets in busy neighborhoods were filled with food stands selling low cost pizza. When visiting Naples, everybody wanted to eat the local dish. In 1830, the first pizza restaurant opened. That restaurant is still open today.

In 1889, pizza became popular in Italy. That’s when the King and Queen visited Naples. The queen loved pizza with red sauce, white cheese and green herbs; the same colors as the Italian flag. After the visit, Italy experienced a pizza craze.

The rest of the world didn’t experience pizza until after the 1950s. Following World War 2, millions of Italians moved abroad. When they moved, they brought their food culture with them.

Pizza shops popped up everywhere. People around the world fell in love with pizza, a food that was started in ancient times, improved by the Greeks and Romans, and perfected in Naples.

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