8.28.2010

What's Your Pizza Style?



Have you ever wondered why it's sometimes called pizza pie? Sure, they're both round and go into the oven (or at least some part of it does), but pizzas have toppings, not filling; and I've yet to see one with a lattice top. As an ever-curious journalist (by degree, not necessarily by practice), I decided to do some research. The best answer I could find to this question comes from InMammasKitchen.com:

"The word pie does not refer to the crust, nor even to the shape or position of the crust. The Oxford English, the Webster's unabridged,and lexicographer Charles Earl Funk all agree that the elemental word pie relates to the magpie, a bird with feathers splotched in two colors, a bird called "pica" by the Romans, whence the English "pie" and the alteration of "pica" to "pizza." The name relates to the bird's double color and its habit of gathering odds and ends, as does a pizza, or pie, gather and consist of varied ingredients."

Okay...I'll buy it.

What's all the pizza fuss? Well, in the past 24 hours it seems this dish is destined to take over my weekend. Thursday night we got an invite to a friend's house for a make-your-own-pizza party, and it's going to be awesome. Whenever all of our friends get together for a food-related event, I always spend a ridiculous amount of time researching a recipe to make, and last night was no different. 

Parked on my couch with the Travel Channel going in the background, I looked for new and interesting ideas for how to top my pie. Then a documentary called Pizza Paradise came on, and I watched wide-eyed as the history of this delicious dish danced across the screen (and stopped at restaurants all over the country) for two hours (ending with a $1,000 pizza at Nino's Bellissima in New York City. Yeah, that's right...). After that, "Man vs. Food" came on, and the first challenge was eating this 14-pound pizza. So, I relented and took the hint, thus this posting.

What stood out most to me in the documentary was how fiercely loyal people in different regions of the country are to their native pizzas. New Yorkers swear by their thin crust; Chicagoans say deep dish is the only way to go; and Californians like it excessively loaded with "gourmet" ingredients. And, of course, all of them say their way is the best way.

This got me thinking...is there a kind of pizza I'm a die-hard fan of? And the answer is a big old boring...no. For me it depends on where I am. On my honeymoon in Italy I always went with the pizza margherita, and each time was blown away with how good simplicity tasted. In Chicago I've eaten at Pizzeria Uno and was happy to consume that sauce-topped pie stuffed to capacity with cheese and veggies. Living in California I'm constantly intrigued by different topping combinations, most recently at Pizza Antica at the newly renovated Santa Monica Place, where preserved slices of lemon were baked into the dough, which was then topped with summer squash, shaved pecorino and Sweet 100 tomatoes.

"The Square Beyond Compare"
You might think I've hit the pizza trifecta, but oh no, my friend. I grew up in St. Louis, where's there Imo's: thin crust with a modest amount of toppings, provel cheese, cut into "squares beyond compare" (and people covet the corner pieces!), and it's just...home. And, of course, it's the best! :)

What about you? What kind of pie gets your taste buds a-tingling?! If you're not sure, maybe you should do some of your own investigation this weekend and get out there and see what your city has to offer!

Peace + pizzas...

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