I’ve been thinking quite a bit about pizza recently. If you were to eat it with me, you would know what a shocking statement this is. But Emilia, you’d probably be thinking, you don’t particularly like pizza. That may be true, part of what fascinates me is that people go bonkers for the stuff. Apart from its fun creation myth, what do we really know about it? Is pizza margherita really named after Queen Margherita? Is the basil, mozzarella and sauce really meant to evoke the Italian flag? These are all fine questions, but here’s what I want to know: just how Italian is pizza really?
Yes, I know pizza was predominately Neapolitan until quite recently. Yes, I know that many pizzerie across the peninsula still proudly display their connections to Naples to assert their quality. What I didn’t know until recently, is that in some parts of American buying a pizza pie is easier than a slice of pizza (Pizza Hut, however, wants to change this). Maybe its just because I’m from New York, but I assumed that slices were the quintessential American way of eating pizza.
Think about how many different versions of pizza you’ve encountered in your life. There were the spongey lunch-room varieties, the kind that your parents ordered in when they didn’t want to cook. In American we have pizza bagels, pizza bites and, deep dish pizza. You can find freezer pizzas, pesto pizzas and sweet pizzas. The options aren’t limited in Italy. It’s pizza as long as the word can, in some way, describe said food. For a food with such a humble beginning, the variety of pizzas we encounter is astonishingly large.
Right now I’m wondering: can we define pizza? Is pizza a food or a way of making something? What makes pizza such a compelling food? Do people love it because they grew up eating it? The more questions I ask, the more I think of.
So, I want to know, pizza: love it? hate it? what’s your favorite way to enjoy it?