Pizza History

Pizza has a long history. It is commonly known that pizza as we know it began in Naples.

Pizza History

Pizza has a long history. It is commonly known that pizza as we know it began in Naples. It was there that pizza Margherita was born. Named for a queen, pizza Margherita shows off the colors on the Italian flag. Red tomatoes, green basil, and white mozzarella top the famous pie. However, it was not the first pizza.

Pizza in a variety of forms existed much before famous pizza Margherita. Breads were bland and flat. People began to add ingredients to enhance the dough’s taste. Different regions added ingredients according to what was available. Dates, cheese, oils, and herbs were some of the first additions. Pizza slowly evolved into what we know today. Immigrants coming to America first introduced the dish in the U.S. Later, American soldiers returning from World War II increased pizza’s popularity. Today Americans feast on pizza weekly.

Pizza is known as a round, flat dough. The dough is topped with tomato, cheese and a wide variety of other toppings. It can be eaten informal settings using a knife and fork. It is most commonly a casual meal. Wedge-shaped slices are eaten by hand, folded in half to keep toppings from sliding off.

In the United States, pizza can be found just about on every corner. Formal and casual pizzerias that often offer delivery are common. In addition, pizza is available in a variety of forms at local groceries. Pizza dining options have developed past the open-air stands found before the 1830s. For more on pizza dining options, see Pizza Near Me.

Most pizza is baked at a high temperature. Brick, wood-fired ovens remain at the top of the list for cooking pizza evenly. A long flat paddle is used to slide the pizza into the oven. This allows pizza to cook directly on the stones, above the heat source. A dusting of cornmeal keeps the pizza dough from sticking to the paddle. In some pizzerias, the pizza moves through the oven on a conveyor belt. In all ovens, the key is even heat distribution to cook the pizza without burning the crust.

A pizza is built from the crust up. Crusts are usually flat leavened dough rolled or tossed to the ideal thickness. It is not uncommon for pizza doughs to contain sugar to aid with rising and browning. Many crusts also contain garlic or herbs to increase their flavor. The options for crust thickness have increased with the popularity of the dish. Choices include options like thin, hand-tossed, pan, and stuffed crusts. With the increased choice for the type of crust, pizza dipping sauces were introduced. The dipping sauces are popularly used for the crust edges.

Traditional pizza is topped with tomatoes. In the United States, that tradition has moved to a tomato- based sauce. As with crusts, pizza sauces continue to evolve. Options now include a variety of marinara, white, herb, and buttery sauces.

The final common ingredient is cheese. The most commonly used cheeses are mozzarella, provolone, Romano, and ricotta. The type of cheese often depends on the region. Italian pizza relies on mozzarella made from water buffalo in a specific area of Italy. Americans are not quite as particular. White cheeses are most traditional. However, pizza can be topped with just about any type of cheese. Cheeses are chosen to compliment the flavors of the other ingredients.

As with sauce and cheese, other pizza toppings vary. Again, the region plays a key role in what is most popular. Neapolitan and Sicilian pizzas are the most popular in Italy. In the United States, many cities have signature pizza styles and toppings. Chicago-style pizza has a deep dish, high-crusted pizza. Toppings begin with chunky tomato sauce and lots of cheese. New York is known for large hand-tossed slices. These pizzas are topped with tomato sauce and mozzarella. New York pizza is made to fold in half and eat on the go. Popular pizza toppings in the U.S include: ground beef, pepperoni, mushrooms, spinach, onions, and pineapple. For more on pizza toppings, see Choosing the Best Pizza.

Due to its popularity, pizza holds a variety of records and awards. The United States celebrates National Pizza Month in October. In 2017, Fontana, CA became the home of the World’s Longest Pizza. The pizza measured a bit over 6,333 feet. Due to this popularity, pizza is a great option for parties. It doesn’t hurt that one large pizza can feed more than one hungry party goer. See Kid’s Pizza Party or Superbowl Pizza Party for more.

Pizza’s popularity has also inspired many variations in the dish. Calzones and Stromboli are folded or rolled pizzas. The ingredients are stuffed inside instead of on top. Pizza sticks, pizza rolls, and pizza bagels are all copies of the basic pizza. Some pizza variations are meant to help pizza become healthier. However, balanced, fresh ingredients are shown to have positive health benefits.

As pizza changes, its history becomes more interesting. It is this adaptability that helps keep pizza in the spotlight. As people’s ideas about food continue to change, pizza will change with them. Pizza is here to stay!