October is pizza month and, according to the American Dairy Association, it’s one of the foods we crave the most. We eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day or 350 slices per second.
According to statistics, most of us will eat 6,000 slices of pizza over our lifetime. Worldwide, over 5 billion pizzas are sold every year and 36 percent of us think it makes the perfect breakfast. Almost half of us eat pizza at least once a week, and the good news is that some studies have shown that eating pizza once a week may reduce the risk of esophageal cancer.
Pizza has been evolving for over 3,000 years and started out as flatbread that was used as an edible utensil; simple fare topped with olive oil and herbs.
When it made its way to Italy they began topping it with tomatoes and selling it at open air food stands. The Italians are credited with creating the pizza, and by all accounts they did perfect it, but it was most likely created by the Greeks or the Phoenicians.
What constitutes an authentic Italian pizza? They actually have guidelines for that. The Verace Pizza Napoletana Association, the Italian government, and the European Union have the following standards; the pizza needs to be made in a pizza oven, San Marzano tomatoes must be used along with mozzarella di bufala cheese (a cheese made from the milk of water buffaloes).
Thankfully the rules are not so stringent in this country, it just has to taste good.
Pizza is recognizable all over the world, and while it starts out basically the same, the toppings vary according to culture and availability of ingredients. The favorite topping in America is pepperoni, but if pepperoni is not your thing there are many other options to explore. India tops theirs with pickled ginger and lots of mayo, or try the Swedish version with peanuts, bananas, chicken, pineapple and curry powder. Brazilians prefer peas, quail eggs, beets and raisins.
Perhaps your taste runs a bit more on the exotic side so how about this: The world’s most expensive pizza was sold for almost three thousand dollars and included; sun blush tomatoes, Scottish smoked salmon, venison, edible gold, lobster marinated in cognac and champagne soaked caviar.
I think I’ll stick to pepperoni.