Pizza is defined as a baked pie consisting of a shallow bread-like crust covered with seasoned tomato sauce, cheese, and often other toppings such as vegetables or meats cooked in a wood fired “forno” or pizza oven. The actual word “pizza” is believed to be derived by from the Italian word meaning “a point,” which in turn became the Italian word “pizzicare”, meaning “to pinch”.
Pizza has evolved but has forever been a basic part of the Italian diet. Early forms of pizza were simple flat breads baked beneath the stones of a fire. After cooking, the bread was seasoned with a variety of different toppings. The breads were used as convenient edible bowls, saving the need for plates and utensils. It is said that the idea of using bread as a plate came from the Greeks who ate flat round bread (plankuntos) baked with an assortment of toppings . It was eaten by the working man and his family because it was cheap and convenient.
The actual word “pizza” was used in 997 AD in Gaeta, Italy then found its’ way to different parts of Central and South Italy. While pizza has been eaten in Italy for centuries, it’s popularity soared and became an American favorite after US soldiers brought home the want for “pizza” after returning from World War II. As the soldiers returned to their homes, regional adaptations of pizza developed with N.Y., Chicago, Detroit, St Louis and California styles emerging as the most popular.
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