What do you take on your Pizza?

Pizza is a very personal thing. Like most foods, we are influenced from an early age by first experiences. So, depending on were you are from, your expectation will differ from me or anyone else. Then, of course there is the GREAT “Pineapple” debate. I like it, and would also add that it is a Canadian innovation. Google it! Once again a little history, and then an in depth look at the three main components of pizza. The crust, sauce and topping(including cheese).

HISTORY

Pizza (Italian: [ˈpittsa]Neapolitan: [ˈpittsə]) is an Italiandish consisting of a usually round, flattened base of leavened wheat-based dough topped with tomatoes, cheese, and often various other ingredients (such as anchovies, mushrooms, onions, olives, pineapple, meat, etc.), which is then baked at a high temperature, traditionally in a wood-fired oven.[1] A small pizza is sometimes called a pizzetta. A person who makes pizza is known as a pizzaiolo.

Foods similar to pizza have been made since the Neolithic Age. Records of people adding other ingredients to bread to make it more flavorful can be found throughout ancient history. In the 6th century BC, the Persian soldiers of the Achaemenid Empire during the rule of Darius the Great baked flatbreads with cheese and dates on top of their battle shields and the ancient Greeks supplemented their bread with oils, herbs, and cheese.[21][22] An early reference to a pizza-like food occurs in the Aeneid, when Celaeno, queen of the Harpies, foretells that the Trojans would not find peace until they are forced by hunger to eat their tables (Book III). In Book VII, Aeneas and his men are served a meal that includes round cakes (like pita bread) topped with cooked vegetables. When they eat the bread, they realize that these are the “tables” prophesied by Celaeno.

Modern pizza evolved from similar flatbread dishes in Naples, Italy, in the 18th or early 19th century. Prior to that time, flatbread was often topped with ingredients such as garlic, salt, lard, and cheese. It is uncertain when tomatoes were first added and there are many conflicting claims. Until about 1830, pizza was sold from open-air stands and out of pizza bakeries.

A popular contemporary legend holds that the archetypal pizza, pizza Margherita, was invented in 1889, when the Royal Palace of Capodimonte commissioned the Neapolitan pizzaiolo (pizza maker) Raffaele Esposito to create a pizza in honor of the visiting Queen Margherita. Of the three different pizzas he created, the Queen strongly preferred a pizza swathed in the colors of the Italian flag — red (tomato), green (basil), and white (mozzarella). Supposedly, this kind of pizza was then named after the Queen, although later research cast doubt on this legend. An official letter of recognition from the Queen’s “head of service” remains on display in Esposito’s shop, now called the Pizzeria Brandi.

Pizza was brought to the United States with Italian immigrants in the late nineteenth century and first appeared in areas where Italian immigrants concentrated. The country’s first pizzeria, Lombardi’s, opened in 1905. Following World War II, veterans returning from the Italian Campaign, who were introduced to Italy’s native cuisine, proved a ready market for pizza in particular.

PIZZA ANATOMY

The Crust; Thin crust, thick crust, Neapolitan, New York style, Montreal style…..it goes on, check this article out for more information. As a side note, remember that it’s basically a bread dough. There can be many things added or taken away, ie, gluten free dough, or pretty much anything added to compliment the pizza concept. By this I mean anything from whole grain crusts to infusing flavors for an Indian, Greek or Asian themed pie.

The Sauce; naturally we think of a tomato based sauce, but there are as many options to this as crust. How about pesto, white sauce, tapenade, BBQ sauce, hummus, Indian butter sauce…use your imagination.

The Toppings; Let’s tackle cheese first. The standard is mozzarella. I could just leave it at that, but there are various qualities in this simple cheese. To keep things simpler, grate your own cheese, and buy a good quality, high fat cheese. Same idea with any other cheese you may want to use in leu of mozzarella. What other kinds you say? Depends on what else on the pizza. To finish this up, I have included a recipe for a “Greek inspired” pizza. Enjoy!

Thanks for popping by! I’ll be keeping it light for the holiday season. Most articles from here on in will be focused on food related to the festive season. I’ll return to my attack on corporate America in the new year…lol. Enjoy your 4 day work week folks, Cheers!