Pizza is an Italian meal made up of a round, flat foundation of leavened wheat-based dough topped with tomatoes, cheese, and a variety of other ingredients (such as anchovies, mushrooms, onions, olives, pineapple, meat, and so on), and cooked at a high temperature, generally in a wood-fired oven. Pizzetta is a term used to describe a tiny pizza. A pizzaiolo is a person who creates pizza.
Pizza served in a formal environment, such as a restaurant, is served unsliced and is eaten with a knife and fork in Italy. It is, however, chopped into wedges and eaten while held in the hand in casual circumstances.
The name pizza was first mentioned in a Latin text from the southern Italian town of Gaeta, on the border with Campania, in the 10th century. Modern pizza was created in Naples, and the meal and its variations have subsequently gained popularity in a number of nations. It has become one of the world’s most popular dishes and a popular fast food item in Europe, North America, and Australasia, where it may be found in pizzerias (pizza restaurants), restaurants serving Mediterranean cuisine, pizza delivery, and as street food. Various food companies provide ready-baked pizzas in grocery shops that may be frozen and reheated in a home oven.
In 2017, the global pizza market was worth $128 billion, with $44 billion distributed over 76,000 pizzerias in the United States.
On any given day, 13% of the population of the United States aged 2 and up consumed pizza.
The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana (lit. True Neapolitan Pizza Association) is a non-profit organization based in Naples that promotes classic Neapolitan pizza. It was created in 1984. Neapolitan pizza was registered with the European Union as a Traditional Speciality Guaranteed dish in 2009, at Italy’s request, and the art of preparing it was added to UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage in 2017.
Fresh or frozen pizza is available whole or in portion-size slices. To tackle issues such as keeping the sauce from mixing with the dough and making a crust that can be frozen and reheated without becoming stiff, methods have been developed. Frozen pizzas with raw ingredients and self-rising crusts are available.
Take-and-bake pizzerias provide a different type of pizza. This pizza is made at the store and then sold unbaked to consumers to bake at home. Some supermarkets sell fresh dough, sauce, and other basic ingredients that may be assembled at home before baking in the oven.
Pizza can be baked in a wood or coal-fired brick oven, an electric deck oven, a conveyor belt oven, or in a classic way in wood or coal-fired brick oven in restaurants. On a long paddle called a peel, the pie is put into the oven and baked directly on hot bricks, a screen (a round metal grating, usually aluminum), or whatever the oven surface is. A peel is usually dusted with cornmeal before usage to make it easier for the pizza to glide on and off. A pizza can be baked on a pizza stone in a conventional oven to simulate the heating effect of a brick oven when made at home. Cooking directly on a metal surface causes the crust to burn due to quick heat transmission. A wood-fired pizza oven, which is normally located outside, is used by some home chefs. In order to provide even heat distribution, these are frequently dome-shaped, as pizza ovens have been for centuries. Grilled pizza is another form, in which the pizza is baked directly on a barbecue grill. Greek pizza is baked in a pan rather than directly on the bricks of the pizza oven, as in deep dish Chicago and Sicilian style pizza.
To assemble their pizzas, most restaurants employ standard and purpose-built pizza preparation tables. Pizza chains can entirely automate their mass production.
The “crust” on the bottom of the pizza might be thin, as in a standard hand-tossed Neapolitan pizza, or thick, as in a deep-dish Chicago-style pizza, depending on the style. It’s usually served plain, but it can be flavored with garlic or herbs, or packed with cheese. The cornicione is a term used to describe the outer border of a pizza. Sugar is added to certain pizza dough to help the yeast rise and brown the crust.
In 1984, American pizza restaurant Papa John’s Pizza produced a pizza-specific dipping sauce, which has subsequently been adopted by some when eating pizza, particularly the crust.
Mozzarella cheese is widely used on pizza, with buffalo mozzarella from the Naples area being particularly popular. Other cheeses, notably Italian cheeses like provolone, pecorino romano, ricotta, and scamorza, are also used. For mass-market pizzas, less expensive processed cheeses or cheese equivalents have been created to offer desirable properties such as browning, melting, stretchiness, consistent fat, and moisture content, and long shelf life. Many studies and tests have been conducted in order to determine the impact of vegetable oil, manufacturing and culture procedures, denatured whey proteins, and other manufacturing alterations on the creation of the optimum and cost-effective pizza cheese. In 1997, the yearly production of pizza cheese in the United States was predicted to be 1 million metric tonnes (1,100,000 short tonnes) and 100,000 metric tonnes (110,000 short tonnes) in Europe.
Pizza and health
Some pizza restaurants’ mass-produced pizzas have been accused of having an unhealthy ingredient balance. Pizza can be salty, fattening, and calorie-dense. Fast-food chains have an average sodium load of 5,101 mg every 36 cm (14 in) pizza, according to the USDA. Unfavorable health impacts have been raised as a worry.
In Italy, frequent pizza eaters were found to have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease and digestive tract cancers than infrequent pizza eaters, while the basis of the link between pizza and such perceived benefits is unknown. Pizza consumption in Italy could just be a sign of sticking to traditional Mediterranean eating habits, which have been linked to a variety of health benefits.
Some ascribe pizza’s apparent health benefits to the lycopene concentration in the sauce, which, according to a study, may have a role in preventing cardiovascular disease and cancer.