Pizza: A Global Food Phenomenon
All the way back in eighteenth century Italy, the pizza was born. The combination of bread and tomato that was to become the pizza we know nowadays began as the food of the poor. It was such a delicious combination that it eventually brought tourists to Naples, the city of its origin, just to try their special combination. Over a hundred years after its creation as a take-away food, the first pizzeria was opened in 1830.
In order to preserve its heritage a council has formed called the "Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana". They enforce the rules for what classifies the pie as the ‘traditional Italian’ variety. Regulations on the temperature at which it is cooked at, the diameter and the methods by which the dough is made are among the strict stipulations they police. The dough, for instance, can only be made by hand, even the use of a rolling pin is prohibited.
At the same time, throughout the rest of the world pizza was developed in a variety of ways. From Turkey came the lahmacun, which directly translated means meat with bread. These consist of a finely chopped pieces of beef or lamb atop a piece of flat bread.
With emigration to the United States went the pie, where it became a multimillion dollar industry. This then developed into regional variations such as the New York style; large flat slices, heavy on the cheese and toppings. Elsewhere, in Detroit, a square pie became the flavor of the state, again the emphasis on a range of toppings. Greek immigrants opening up restaurants also developed an individual style whereby the dish would be cooked in a pan; the origin of today’s deep pan variety. Together these styles have become the global image of pizza, that most takeaways offer.
This hasn’t been restricted to America, the whole world have diversified the original Neopolitan stalwart. Cuisine from each corner of the earth have found themselves topping the famous flatbread. Chicken tikka to tuna and sweet corn and everything in between; the base of bread and tomato is now a canvas for the culinary arts.
In Russia, for instance, the preferred topping is red herring; in Japan it’s eel and squid. Australians prefer shrimps and pineapple, whereas those out East, in Pakistan, go for curry. The favorite topping in America is the synonymous pepperoni; where over 250 million pounds of the stuff are plied the the pie each year.
It hasn’t just been the toppings that have been experimented with. The crust, disregarded by many, has been stuffed with everything imaginable, from garlic cheese, to wild mushroom fricassee and even more pepperoni. Some places now offer a double decker pizza, where two bases are separated by a layer of sauce and cheese for a real feast.
This is now such a big business and a worldwide delicacy, that every supermarket, street and street corner offers a slice for next to nothing. The U.S. leads the world in consumption with around 350 slices being eaten each second; over a hundred acres a day. This industry now returns upwards of $30 billion in profits each year.