Editor: Patrick Coyne
Who doesn’t love pizza? The American infatuation with pizza is a long, torrid affair that dates back to the first wave of Italian immigrants arriving stateside in the 19th Century. But the pizza love has spread far and wide, touching most continents across the world.
As this simple Italian peasant food became a common dish throughout both hemispheres, individual nations started adding their own indigenous twist to the pie. Traditional Pizza was infused with regional tastes and produce to create a completely new food experience. For instance, most pizza eaters world wide have tried pepperoni or peppers but what about coconut? Or eel? Pizza is a simple enough design that can easily be modified to accommodate almost anyones taste. Just as the Americans have put an new twist on the old dish, many nations like Japan, and India have also added some homegrown zest. Let’s explore the many changes and transformations pizza has made on its intercontinental trips, starting with Pizza’s birthplace: Italy.
The questions seems to arise often: How do the Italians eat their pizza? As I mentioned earlier, pizza started as peasant dish. It was sold by street vendors during the Renaissance and was originally served without tomato sauce. But now in modern day Italy, the most popular style pizza is the Margherita, a unique pie that dates back to 1889. The Margherita pizza was a special order created for Queen Margherita. It consists of fresh mozzarella, basil leaves and tomato sauce. The three ingredients represent the colors of the Italian Flag and despite the numerous regional variations, the original Margherita has been the reigning Pizza champ in Italy for more than a century.
After the heavy influx of Italian immigrants entering the United States in the 19th and 20th century, pizza became a staple of the American diet and as the Italians spread across the nation pizza styles began to splinter from the original recipe. East coast style pizza seems to be the most familiar but Chicago style deep dish is an American made recipe born in the Windy City during WW II. The pizza resembles a traditional fruit pie. A buttery crust is tucked into a literal deep dish and topped with over a pound of cheese and toppings.
After pizza sunk its teeth into the snacking subconscious of America, it was time for the pie to conquer the world. Pizza has gained so much popular with so many people because of the dishes adaptability. In Russia for example, their favorite pizza is the Mockba: Sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and onions- In case you wanted a little pizza with your fish.
Or you can head to the Middle East and Enjoy pizza: India Style. The Indians enjoy their pizza with pickled ginger, minced mutton and paneer(a form of cream cheese). But still, my hat goes off to the nations of Japan and Korea. Their inventiveness and ingenuity goes far beyond anything seen on a pie before. The many Asian mutations range from the appetizing( asparagus, sesame seeds, mushrooms) to the bizarre( squid, lettuce, mayonnaise). Japan takes it beyond toppings and gets creative with the crust- stuffing it with sausage or shrimp and mayo rolls. Not to be outdone, Korea serves pizza with three stacked thin crusts, all melted together with gooey cheese. If seafood is your thing, try shrimp and a cream cheese filled crust. If that sounds too heavy for you, you can order a low calorie pizza on a rice cake. That’s my kind of dieting.
With the nearly endless choices, flavors, styles and toppings from around the world, pizza is quite possibly the most versatile meal ever. It’s international adoration is a testament to the simple yet delicious dish. The popularity of pizza has never wained since it’s incarnation in the 15th century, and will remain a favorite world wide for centuries to come.
Thanks to all that came to my appearance at the Gourmet Women & wine event in Philadelphia this weekend I enjoyed meeting you all.
April 4th- Whole Foods in Jenkintown, Pa. Book sgining and The Basic Art of Italian Cooking by Maria Liberati tm will presnet Cooking on A Budget with The Basic Art of Italian Cooking. To register call the store at 215-481-0800
Get your copy of the best selling book The Basic Art of Italian Cooking at http://www.marialiberati.com
Mangai Bene, Vivi Bene,