Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- This article is about the bread pie. For the programming language, see Pizza programming language. For the Australian television show, see Pizza (Australian television).
In its basic form, a pizza (occasionally, pizza pie) is an oven-baked, flat, usually circular bread covered with tomato sauce and cheese with optional garnishes. The cheese is usually mozzarella or "pizza cheese". Various other foodstuffs can be added to this design as garnishes, most typically ground meats and sausages, such as salami and pepperoni, ham, bacon, fruits such as pineapple and olives, vegetable-like fruits such as chili peppers and sweet bell peppers, and vegetables such as onions. Mushrooms are also a popular topping. The crust is traditionally plain but can be flavoured with butter, garlic, herbs, or sesame. Pizza is normally eaten hot (typically at lunch or dinner), but leftovers are often eaten cold, typically at breakfast or on a picnic.
Pizza is eaten in restaurants and purchased in grocery stores or supermarkets; in many countries, pizza can also be ordered by phone (or, increasingly, via the Web) to be delivered, hot and ready for eating, to the home.
Types of pizza
Authentic Neapolitan pizza ('a pizza Napoletana)
According to Associazione vera pizza napoletana, genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of flour, natural yeast or brewer's yeast, and water. For proper results strong flour with high protein content, as used for bread-making rather than cakes, must be used. The dough must be kneaded by hand or with an approved mixer. After the rising process the dough must be formed by hand without the help of a rolling pin or any other mechanical device. Baking the pizza must take place on the surface of a bell shaped, wood-fired, volcanic stone oven. The oven temperature is between 400°C and 450°C, and the pizza is cooked for approximately 2 minutes. It should be soft, well cooked, fragrant, and enclosed in a soft edge of crust.
The classic types and their respective toppings include:
- Marinara or Napoletana: tomato, olive oil, oregano, and garlic.
- Margherita: tomato, olive oil, fresh basil leaves, grated parmesan cheese, and fior-di-latte (mozzarella made from cow's milk) or mozzarella di bufala. Said to have been created by Raffaele Esposito in 1889, with the toppings in the colours of the tricolor flag of Italy, and named for the wife of King Umberto I of Italy, Queen Margherita of Savoy.
- Formaggio e Pomodoro: tomato, olive oil, and grated parmesan cheese. Basil leaves are optional.
Turnovers in the pizza family:
- Ripieno or Calzone: fior-di-latte or mozzarella di bufala, sometimes also ricotta cheese, olive oil, and salami, other meat, vegetables, etc.
- Stromboli: mozzarella, meat, vegetables, etc.
Pizza has become an international food since the toppings can be extensively varied to meet local variations in taste. These pizzas consist of the same basic design but include an exceptionally diverse choice of ingredients, such as anchovies, egg, pineapple, eggplant, lamb, couscous, chicken, fish and shellfish, meats done in ethnic styles such as Moroccan lamb, kebab or even chicken tikka masala, and non-traditional spices such as curry and Thai sweet chili. A "white pizza" (pizza bianca) uses no tomato sauce, often substituting pesto or dairy products such as sour cream. Pizzas with non-traditional ingredients are known in the United States as "gourmet pizza" or California-style. It is also simple to make pizzas without meat for vegetarians.
Hawaiian pizzas are a North American invention, usually consisting of a cheese and tomato base with ham (sometimes Canadian bacon) and pineapple toppings. Hawaiian pizza is mocked by some as a variation which has strayed too far from its Italian roots, and loathed by others for the effect the addition of sweet fruit has on the overall flavor.
Pizza may be baked with thin bread bottom (Italian style) or with thicker bread (pan pizza).
In Chicago, the Chicago Style Pizza, or deep dish pizza, contains a crust which is formed up the sides of a deep dish pan and reverses the order of ingredients, using crust, cheese, filling, then sauce on top. Some versions (usually referred to as "stuffed" pizza) have two layers of crust with the sauce on top. Deep dish pizza was purportedly invented and first served in 1943 at Uno's Pizzeria, which as of 2004 was still operating along with its twin restaurant, Due's, in the River North neighborhood of Chicago.
In St. Louis, Missouri, Saint Louis-style pizza is made with a thin crispy crust, often heavily seasoned with salt and oregano, topped with provel cheese, and served in small squares rather than pie-like slices.
In restaurants, pizza can be baked in a conveyor belt oven or, in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood- or coal-fired brick oven.
In Scottish fish and chip shops, it is usually possible to buy a "pizza supper". This consists of a portion of fried chips (french fries) and a frozen pizza which has been deep fried rather than baked. Although its nutritional value is dubious, it is nevertheless a popular meal.
Pizza arguably has its first literary mention in Book VII of Vergil's Aeneid: 'Their homely fare dispatch’d, the hungry band/Invade their trenchers next, and soon devour,/To mend the scanty meal, their cakes of flour./Ascanius this observ’d, and smiling said:/“See, we devour the plates on which we fed.”' In the 3rd century B.C., the first history of Rome, written by Marcus Porcius Cato, mentions a "flat round of dough dressed with olive oil, herbs, and honey baked on stones". Further evidence is found in 79 A.D. from the remains of Pompeii; archeologists excavated shops that closely resemble a present day pizzeria.
The tomato was first believed to be poisonous (as most other fruits of the nightshade family are), when it came to Europe in the 16th century. However, by the late 18th century even the poor of the area around Naples added it as an ingredient to their yeast-based flat bread, and the dish gained in popularity. Pizza became a tourist attraction, and visitors to Naples ventured into the poorer areas of the city to try the local specialty.
The earliest pizzeria opened in 1830 at Via Port'Alba 18 in Naples and is still in business today. Pizza was still considered "poor man's food" in 1889 when Rafaele Esposito , the most famous pizzaiolo of Naples, was summoned before King Umberto I and Queen Margherita to prepare the local speciality. It is said that he made two traditional ones and additionally created one in the colours of the Italian flag with red tomato sauce, white mozzarella cheese, and green basil leaves. The big secret in making pizza is the fact that it's not only mozzarella cheese but rather a mixture of white cheddar and mozzarella. The Queen was delighted and "pizza Margherita" was born.
An Italian immigrant to the US in 1897 named Gennaro Lombardi opened a small grocery store in New York's Little Italy. An employee of his, Antonio Totonno Pero, also an Italian immigrant, began making pizza for the store to sell. Their pizza became so popular, Lombardi opened the first US pizzeria in 1905, naming it simply Lombardi's. In 1924 Totonno left Lombardi's to open his own pizzeria on Coney Island called Totonno's. At this point in time in the U.S., pizza consumption was still limited mostly to the Italian immigrant crowd.
The international breakthrough came after World War II. Although the birthplace of modern day pizza is Naples, local bakers were at a loss to satisfy the demand from American soldiers. While the American troops involved in the Italian campaign took their appreciation for the dish back home, the millions of Italians called to help rebuild the damaged economy introduced their cuisine to the rest of Europe.
With the rising popularity in the 1950s, especially in the US, pizza became a component of the growing chain-restaurant industry. Some leading early pizza chains were Shakey's Pizza (which invented the term pizza parlor; formerly, the term pizzeria was preferred) and Pizza Hut (owned by Yum! Brands, Inc.), both founded in 1954, the former in Sacramento and the latter in Wichita. Some later entrants to the dine-in pizza market were Happy Joe's, California Pizza Kitchen, and Round Table Pizza . The pizza business today is dominated by companies that specialize in home delivery (or serve it that way exclusively), including Domino's Pizza, Little Caesar's, and Papa John's Pizza. Even Pizza Hut has shifted its emphasis away from pizza parlors and toward home delivery. These national pizza chains often coexist with locally owned and operated pizza chains and independent restaurants. Because pizzas can be made quickly and are easily transported, most pizza restaurants in the United States offer call-in pizza delivery services. The lack of such delivery services at the time in England was the focus of an extended passage in the Douglas Adams novel The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul.
In most developed countries, pizza is also found in supermarkets as a frozen food. Considerable amounts of food technology has gone into the creation of palatable frozen pizzas. The main challenges include preventing the sauce from combining with the dough and producing a crust that can be frozen and reheated without becoming rigid. Traditionally the dough is somewhat pre-baked and other ingredients are also sometimes pre-cooked; lately, frozen pizzas with completely raw ingredients have also begun to appear.
- "When the moon hits your eye like a big-a pizza pie, That's Amore." sung by Dean Martin, reached US number 2 in 1953.
Pizza in culture
Pizza is a common food in animated television series; not only does this reflect the actual popularity of the food, but the ease of drawing it over and over. Television series that feature pizza parlours as regular locations include Goof Troop and The Weekenders. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are also regular purveyors of pizzas. There's also the Samurai Pizza Cats which is (partially) about a pizza restaurant.
- Recipes-Dessert pizzas
- Dessert Pizzas-Recipes
- Associazione vera pizza napoletana — US Chapter
- A more in-depth history of the Pizza
- Lombardi's Pizzeria in New York City, America's oldest Pizzeria
- For the Pizza Makers of Naples, a Tempest in a Pie Dish by Al Baker
- Encyclopizza - The Guide to Preparing Great Pizza
- Pizza recipe with step-by-step illustrated instructions
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