The time has come, the walrus said, to talk of many things. This thing starts with
Pizza, in one form or another has been around for centuries – Hell, millennia. People in the Middle-East baked round flatbread, and then put ‘stuff’ – highly technical term – on it to eat, vegetables, a bit of meat or cheese, some spices and oil. The ancient Sumerians and Greeks both had a word which sounds very much like ‘pizza’, and meant bit, or bite, or mouthful.
The Greeks taught the Romans, and the tradition entered what would become Italy. The dish didn’t change much until the 1500s, when the ruling class of Naples got ahold of it. Now, spiced meats, sauces, and other toppings were placed on unbaked bread dough and put into the oven. No-one seems to know who came up with tomato sauce, or when. Ooey-gooey-good Mozzarella cheese came into being, and, what had been a simple meal for simple peasants, became a gourmet meal for the nobility.
Pizza came to North America in the 1880s, with the wave of Italian immigrants. The first pizzeria in the USA was Lombardi’s, in New York City, in 1905, no matter what the bent-nose bunch in Chicago claim. At last count, there were just over 200 pizzerias in NYC, and scores of various restaurants which include it on their menu.
It remained largely a cheap meal for Italians. ‘Pieces’ came into being when poor laborers couldn’t even afford a whole pie, but still needed some food. Pizza didn’t really enter the American consciousness until the mid-1940s, when Servicemen returned from the Italian Campaign. It’s sad that it took a World War to popularize one of the greatest fast-foods.
Do-gooders have decried pizza, along with the likes of chips and pop, in their fight against obesity. It took the American Council of Dieticians to point out that it’s actually one of the best foods for us. It contains bread, vegetables, meat and cheese, all the four food groups. Eating too much of anything will make you fat – but man, what a way to go!!
Some folks insist that there’s a ‘standard’ pizza, but after 3000 years, it’s still, ‘whatever you put on it.’ Area differences appear – pineapple and mango?? If I want a fruit salad, I’ll order a fruit salad. To me, anchovies have all the attraction of salted eyelashes. I prefer smoked bacon to bland ham, and add pepperoni, mushrooms and hot Italian sausage to my usual order.
New York style pizza has a thin, pliable crust, and slices are folded over, to eat on the move, with one hand. Hillary Clinton recently did this, while Donald Trump cut his into pieces and ate them with a fork. Way to show the average Joe that you’re just like him, Dumb Don.
The same thing can be achieved when the chef folds a small ‘pizza’ over, into a half-moon shape. If it is then baked, it is called a panzerotti. If it is deep-fried, it is a calzone. I love me some nice crisp calzones with marinara sauce.
The pizza chefs of Chicago went a different route. They created Chicago Deep Dish Pizza. The crust is as thin and pliable as New York, but it is baked in a cake-pan type dish. The rims are raised an inch or more and toppings are shoveled in like they were disposing of evidence.
They’ve even created a Stuffed Pizza. It’s built upside-down. The ‘toppings’ are placed on the bottom, and ‘some’ sauce and cheese are added. Then, a second crust is laid down over them, and sealed to the sides. A steam vent hole is cut in the middle, so that it doesn’t explode, and more sauce is ladled on.
When that baby is cooked and cut into pieces, you don’t handle a slab of it with one hand. If Donald Trump shows up, you can tell him to, “Fork you!”
There are a myriad of variations of pizza, limited only by your imagination. There’s thick crust, and thin crust. There’s edgeless, and stuffed edges. Your choice of toppings can make one very cheap, or very expensive. I prefer my shrimp with tangy seafood sauce, on a bed of shredded lettuce, not on my pizza, and I can’t begin to afford black truffles or red-wine-soaked brie.
Five-cheese pizza is just silly. Unless you have an epicure’s taste buds, after two, all you can taste is Cheese. Climb down off your pretentious unicorn and just order extra mozza. I like a bit of grated parmesan on top of everything else.
Well class, that’s enough discussion about pizza for today. Thanx guys, for reading my stuff. I’m a little hungry. I think I’ll go out for some lunch. Anybody want a burger and fries?? 😳