Pizza, probably one of your favourite dishes on the menu! Diverse, tasty, cheesy, delicious, easy to make, and even easier to cook, this Italian dish has grown into a dinner and lunchtime staple and is just about everywhere.
When you think pizza you imagine Italy, but the origin of pizza goes way back to ancient times where Greeks and Egyptians prepared pizza like a flatbread topping it with olive oil and spices.
The “modern pizza” we know and love today evolved in Naples, Italy. This honorary comfort food that we often crave truly deserves a moment of our time, so without further ado read these interesting facts about pizza, served especially for you…
The history behind the recipe
It’s been here for centuries
Pizza has a long and rich history. At first pizza was prepared similar to today’s focaccia, as flatbreads with toppings by ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks. Later on, a slightly modern version of pizza was created in south-western Italy’s Campania region, home to the city of Naples.
In the 1700s and early 1800s, Naples was a prosperous waterfront city. The city was notorious for its throngs of the working classes. These Neapolitans were in search of inexpensive food that could be consumed quickly. Pizza — flatbreads was the perfect meal to meet this need. The tasty garnishes beloved today, such as tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies, and garlic were actually introduced through these early pizzas.
King Umberto I and Queen Margherita visited Naples in 1889, and the legend says that the traveling couple became bored with their steady French diet so they’ve asked for a variety of pizzas from the city’s Pizzeria Brandi, the descendant to Da Pietro pizzeria, founded in 1760. What did the Queen enjoy the most? Pizza mozzarella, a pie topped with this soft white cheese, red tomatoes, and green basil, a pie featuring the colors of the Italian flag. In fact, according to the story, from that moment on that particular topping combination was called pizza Margherita.
Crossing the Atlantic
The US pizza trend started in the 1940s, with the immigrants arriving from Naples. They were reproducing their trusty, crusty pizzas in New York, Chicago, and other American cities. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, many Neapolitans were coming to the US for factory jobs, as did millions of Europeans. Even though finding jobs was their primary goal, unknowingly they made quite a culinary statement, and relatively quickly, the pizza flavors and aromas began to intrigue US citizens.
Square or round?
However, pizzas weren’t conventionally meant to be circular or round. In fact, in Italy, they started off as square. Pizza conformists and conservatives will likely still argue that this is the one true way to serve and enjoy the dish! Spinning pizza dough looks like a lot of fun, but there is an art skill behind it. Chefs will spin dough carefully to ensure that they get the perfect balance in the crust and the base. There are even competitions and contests out there for the best dough spinning chef!
US pizza fans
A month in honour of pizza
The US loves pizza so much that they’ve bestowed an entire month in its honour. If you travel to the States in October, you’ll be able to take part in National Pizza Month. Also, on the third Friday in May, Americans celebrate National Pizza Party Day. On this day they praise the qualities of one of their favourite foods-pizza!
Topping and crust
Cheese pizza topping is one of the most common and popular. Interestingly cheese is used to such an extent that US pizza eaters have driven up cheese sales and intake in the county by 41% since the mid-90s. US pizza lovers, when it comes to crusts, prefer to go thin-base. So, if you want to cut down on the calories served in pizza, it’s a really good choice, as a lot of it will come from its intensive carbohydrate. The thinner the better!
Is it possible to get a pizza delivery up in space? Apparently, it is, as the International Space Station ordered the dish in 2001, and Pizza Hut fulfilled the order. Pizza Hut might already be one of the most popular brands on the planet, but they wanted to go further by engraving their logo onto the Moon’s surface, too. Unfortunately, the plans failed when it appeared that they’d need to create an image thousands and thousands of miles wide.
While we’re at unusual pizza deliveries we should mention the fact that there’s a restaurant in Alaska which will deliver pizza to you by airplane! How about ordering pizza by computer? Such a test actually took place as far back as 1974! It happened at Michigan State University where the engineers worked on the creation of a talking computer, and they used it to speak out a pizza order down the phone to a local pizzeria!
How popular is pizza in the US?
The figures speak for themselves! It’s so popular that it’s likely to turn over $30 billion each year. Simply put, if it disappeared overnight, a lot of Americans would extremely miss the dish. It’s estimated that around 10% of all food sales in the US come from pizza alone, no wonder when about 17% of all restaurants in the US are pizzerias.
Pizza is so loved that Philadelphia even has its own pizza museum called Pizza Brain which is devoted to the incredible array of different memorabilia and merchandising that surrounds this cheesy treat. And that’s not all, there’s also a pizza convention held in Las Vegas every year, where you can take part in the International Pizza Expo and find out more about different toppings and tastes.
The Super Bowl
USA’s Super Bowl is a big deal for pizza houses. In fact, Pizza Hut reports that they sell an average of 2,500,000 pizzas every year, just during the football match alone! Super Bowl Sunday is one of the biggest days for pizzerias around the country. Luckily Dan and Frank Carney founded Pizza Hut back in 1958, one of the most popular pizza chains in the world, otherwise Super Bowl Sunday would just not be the same.
The most extravagant pizza
You’ll find the most extravagant pizza on the planet on sale at Nino’s Bellissima restaurant in New York. You’ll find that this pizza luxury here costs $1,000 per pie, but that’s thanks to the fact it comes packed with chives, lobster, and six different twists of caviar – as well as crème fraiche. There are probably no other pizzas that come close to being quite this extravagant!
Pizza cooked in NASA oven
Here’s a home-baked idea! NASA created 3D printers for food replication. To mix powders to produce food that has the structure and texture of, well, actual food, including smell, the printers use a digital recipe. So, their 3D-printed pizza oven allows them to create a fresh pizza in just over a minute. Not a bad way of getting a fresh dish at an International Space Station in a pinch!
The most popular chain pizzerias
One of the most popular chain pizzerias in the world is Domino’s Pizza. In fact, they boast of a capacity for up to 34 million different pizza recipes, thanks to the sheer number of toppings they serve. Domino’s Pizza once ran a pizza-ology degree certification. Only three people have ever graduated from Domino’s College of Pizza-ology, and one of those is Tom Monaghan, who owns and runs the brand!
A tricky pizza chain
Many American citizens are well aware of the Chuck E Cheese pizza company, a famous chain of kids’ pizza restaurants. However, the chain was first set up not to sell pizza, but to inspire kids to play video games and to buy consoles. That’s because Chuck E Cheese was created by Atari founder Nolan Bushnell, a pioneer in the video game industry.
Pizza fans across the globe
In Italy, there’s a law that regulates whether or not a pizza can be considered authentic and traditional to the country. This is established by analysing pizza ingredients, toppings, and the way of preparation. We can say with certainty that Italy cares very deeply about its pizza on the whole!
Different countries have different ways of serving pizza. Thanks to its bendy format, bread, sauce, and cheese, you can throw almost anything you like on top! In Japan, usually pizza is eaten with squid and mayonnaise!
There’s actually a lot more to the art of making and baking pizza than you think, so you might stumble upon pizza makers that have their own secret code and language! The recipe is no so secret anymore, but if you want to start learning how to make pizza for real, you’re likely going to need to brush up on your lingo!
Hawaiian or Canadian?
You’d be wrong if you think Hawaiian pizza is so-called because it originates from the state. It doesn’t have any kind of correlation to Hawaii at all – in fact, ham and pineapple pizza was created in Canada!
Scottish pizza twist
The Scottish always have an exciting way to add their own twists to cuisine, and one of their perhaps least tasty options is, at least on the surface, is deep-fried pizza. That’s right, in Scotland you’ll be able to munch on a deep-fried Mars bar at a Scottish fishery, or even ask for your own oil dunked pizza.
Eggs and pizza?
Many people enjoy eating eggs on pizza, too! In the UK it’s a common staple in many chain pizzerias, but it’s actually more of a common topping in Australian pizzerias. So it’s likely to find egg as an option alongside plenty of regular toppings, such as pepperoni and extra cheese!
Traveling to India
If you travel to India you’re also likely to tuck into pizza. If you’ve never sampled the local Indian cuisine before, the toppings may raise a few eyebrows! You can taste pizza here which is topped with the most unusual toppings, such as pickled ginger and tofu. As we’ve already specified, if it’s edible, you can probably go ahead and top your pizza with it, it’s your choice!
Cambodian happy pizza
Cambodia has a rather interesting way of cooking pizza, to say the least. If you head out East you might just find that you can buy pizza which is cooked in marijuana! No wonder it’s called the “happy pizza”, but proceed with moderation and caution!
Toppings and flavors
Different pizza toppings
When making any kind of pizza, mozzarella tends to be the cheese of choice to the extent that studies are confirming it’s the best cheese for these recipes. In fact, you can top your pizza with all kinds of things, the sky’s the limit! You’ll probably find popular alternate toppings in the form of aubergine, prawns, baked beans, and more besides. Just use your imagination and if you can top a pizza with it, it’s likely there is an option for it!
Millions of people choose vegetarian pizza, but it seems women are more likely to order these toppings than men – twice as likely, in fact! There are many different ways in which you can decrease the number of calories you eat in a pizza. Believe it or not, dabbing some of the greases off a pizza will help. Therefore, grab some kitchen rolls the next time you order in, to dab some of the greases off because pizza tends to be unhealthy when it is loaded with grease and oil.
The most popular day for pizza
Saturday is a day for our relaxation and a bit of laziness. So no surprise here, that the most popular day of the week to eat pizza is a Saturday when it’s most likely for us to be tucking into takeaway food!
Pizza flavored food
Unbelievable, but true, pizza has even found its way into a variety of unusual products looking to incorporate that pizza flavor. For example, it’s perfectly likely to find pizza-flavored vapes and e-cigarettes, and even beer and ice cream. Imagine that, eating pizza and drinking pizza flavored beer!
Many chefs strive to get that pizza crumb, the internal build to a pizza, just right, and if you study to become a fully-fledged pizza chef, you’ll probably need to focus on the crumb. But what makes the best crumb? It all depends on whom you speak to! Though light and airy with plenty of holes seem to be a firm favourite amongst connoisseurs!
Number of calories
Are you the person that counts calories before eating? If you are, you should know that the number of calories you can expect from each slice of pizza will vary. It depends on the cheese, the toppings you put on, and how deep your crust is. Still, you should expect that most pizza is high in fat and carbohydrates. Pizzas topped with pepperoni and other meats are likely to contain the most calories. In fact, some of the healthiest meat you can put on a pizza includes a Spanish alternative to pepperoni called chorizo, and chicken.
An amazing source of protein
You might not be aware of it, but pizza is a surprising source of protein. While pizza toppings may vary, it’s estimated that the average slice of pizza probably hosts up to 25% protein. Mainly thanks to the cheese, of course! There’s another immense pizza benefit, as it’s thought that eating pizza once a week could help to prevent oesophageal cancer.
A source of vegetables
Pizza can be an amazing source of vegetables. If you are trying to pack your diet with greens, then it makes sense to pile your pizza with peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, and more. A great way to make healthier pizza is in fact, to cut down on the cheese. Just 50% less cheese on your pizza, melted, is still likely to give you enough to bite into! There have also been moves to switch dough bases completely for veggie-based crusts made from spinach, cauliflower, or beetroot.
Eating a ready-made pizza every day?
If you’re eating a ready-made pizza you’ll soon be loading on the pounds. According to a study, those people who ate more than 70g of pizza and other ready-made foods a day were more likely to gain belly fat. If you make a few healthy substitutions, this may not apply, so start substituting!
A healthy crust
If you really can’t imagine your pizza without that delicious bread crust, you can try replacing it with a whole-wheat alternative. This will probably save you calories, and increase your fibre intake as well. Rather unbelievable, but crust thickness is to blame for more than 100 calories extra per slice of pizza. You could save a quarter to a third of the calories you’d expect per slice by switching to thin crust, so thin it is!
Do you know any fun facts about pizza? Share them in the comments below!
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