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Pizza
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Pizza

For the computer language, see Pizza programming language.

In its basic form, a pizza (occasionally, albeit redundantly, 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, and fungi such as mushrooms. The crust is traditionally plain but it can be flavoured with butter, garlic, herbs or sesame. The variety of ingredient typically used has drawn kudos by nutritionists as an excellent fast food. Pizza can be eaten either hot (typically at lunch or dinner) or cold (typically at breakfast or on a picnic).

In some countries, apart from eating pizza in a restaurant, buying it in a supermarket, or preparing it oneself, pizza can be ordered by phone or e-mail and is then delivered hot and ready for eating.

The word "pizza" is from the Italian pizza (IPA: /pittsa/), with the same meaning, also meaning "a mess". Italian plural: pizze (IPA: /pittse/).

Table of contents
1 Types of pizza
2 History
3 External links

Types of pizza

Authentic Neapolitan pizza ('a pizza Napulitana)

According to Associazione vera pizza napoletana, genuine Neapolitan pizza dough consists of flour, natural yeast or brewer's yeast and water. Further 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. When eaten, the following characteristics should be present: soft, well cooked, fragrant and enclosed in a soft edge of crust.

The classic types include and their respective toppings are:

Others

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 combination which has strayed too far from its Italian roots.

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 have two layers of crust with the sauce on top.

In restaurants it can be baked in a conveyor belt oven or in the case of more expensive restaurants, a wood fired brick oven.

History

Flat breads are an ancient tradition round the Mediterranean. Perhaps of ancient Persian origin, such bread was introduced to Magna Graecia (southern Italy) by its earliest Greek colonists.

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, but 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 speciality.

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 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 Pizza 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, several major corporations became chiefly engaged in the commercial production of pizza, notably Pizza Hut (owned by Yum! Brands, Inc), Domino's Pizza, Little Caesar's, California Pizza Kitchen, Round Table Pizza and Papa John's Pizza. These pizza chains often coexist with locally owned and operated pizza chains. 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.

External links