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What Is Pizza?

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 

On another thread there was a detour as some folk discussed pizza toppings.

 

Got me to thinking--exactly what is pizza? Is it merely a flatbread with whatever toppings you choose to throw on it? Or is it a traditional red-sauce, mozzarella, and some meat or veggie toppings?

 

I'm not looking for a best-of kind of discussion; nor a comparison of, say NY pizza to deep dish (we all know that whatever deep dish is, it is not pizza). But the simple fact is, Canadian bacon and pineapple is a long, long way from the pizza I grew up on.

 

So, really, what, exactly, is pizza?

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #2 of 46

I'm very much an inclusionist in that I consider everything that meets three guidelines to be pizza. Those guidelines are 1)some sort of bread or crust 2) that is topped with some kind of sauce and 3) cheese and/or other toppings. Therefore, I consider even a pie topped with ham and pineapple (regardless of how much I loathe it) to be pizza. I have had pizza topped with many things, and there are some interesting combinations out there.

 

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #3 of 46

It's a large  open-faced sandwich.

post #4 of 46

I think the definition has to be more specific.  Per Tyler, a plate of nachos is a pizza.  Per PHatch, a hot turkey sandwich with gravy is a pizza.

 

I think it has to include a yeast-based crust baked with the toppings on it.  No tortillas, crepes, pitas, etc.  I think after that, different toppings are very debatable.

post #5 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by KCZ View Post

Per Tyler, a plate of nachos is a pizza.

 

Chips don't equal bread or crust. Therefore, I wouldn't consider a plate of nachos to be pizza. I would consider them a plate of nachos. However, a crust covered in spiced ground beef, jalepenos, and cheese would be a pizza.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #6 of 46

Was just posting a response to this topic on the tomato paste thread when DC sunshine and I went off on a pizza tangent.

 

I am very loose on the definition of pizza.  Basically it is a starchy flattened base with toppings and then baked.  The base could be dough, pita, bread, tortilla, crepe, pancake, or bagel.  The sauce could be tomato, pesto, gravy, or have no sauce at all.  The toppings one can put on pizza are limitless.  I had a pizza once somewhere in umbria with just mozzarella and cream.

 

My absolute favorite is thin crust with tomato sauce, mozz, mushrooms, canadian bacon, and cream cheese.

 

In response to the nacho dilemma - nachos are nachos, they are not pizza unless the tortilla chips are laid out flat and side by side and then topped like this:

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3433/3257155428_bef5dd96d5.jpg

 

But not like this:

http://www.klove.com/BLOG/SCOTTANDKELLI/image.axd?picture=2010%2F2%2Fnachos.jpg

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #7 of 46
Thread Starter 

KK, I don't understand the difference.

 

Are you saying that plating, rather than ingredients, are a determining factor? To me, a tortilla chip doesn't change it's nature just because you laid it flat instead of piling it randomly with its brothers.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #8 of 46

In its best and most basic form, I consider pizza to essentially be a hand-kneaded, strong flour crust of no more than 4 mm thickness that comes out tender but crispy.  Extra-virgin olive oil would be added to the crispy crust and it would be topped with tomato, mozzarella and herbs, namely basil.  For me, anything beyond that is pizza 'plus'. 

 

The only exception I'd make is regarding sauce.  I don't actually think sauce, in its most popular form, is included in my basic, ideal version.  I don't prefer the pre-made tomato sauces or the ones on the commercial pizza place pies.  If it's going to take sauce form, for me, it would include crushed tomatoes with their juices but no paste.

 

This is contrary to the options I was presented with growing up which were pizzas from one of the various commercial pizza places (i.e. Pizza Hut, Dominos, etc.), or 'home-made' pizza from a box (Chef Boyardee kits).

I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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post #9 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by KCZ View Post

I think the definition has to be more specific.  Per Tyler, a plate of nachos is a pizza.  Per PHatch, a hot turkey sandwich with gravy is a pizza.



Not at all. Two different things may both be sandwiches but that doesn't make them interchangeable. I don't consider a hot brown a pizza but I think they both fit into the sandwich classification.  I like the sandwich  classification wtih the bread crust, sauce for the dressing and so on.

post #10 of 46
Thread Starter 

I don't consider a hot brown a pizza....

 

Well thanks for that, Phil. Just the thought of it, and I'm wiping coffee off the monitor.

 

.....but I think they both fit into the sandwich classification. 

 

Which sort of begs the question. If the general class is "open faced sandwich," and pizza fits in the class, what are the unique aspects that differentiate it from others in the class?

 

In short, why are hot browns---or a hot turkey sandwich, for that matter--not pizza?

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #11 of 46

Primarily it is cooking the raw dough and toppings together into the completed form.  Now there are pizza relatives that do this too, like the Calzone or Stromboli, but those aren't open faced clarifying when it's pizza and not it's relatives. 

 

The hot brown doesn't do that as most all of it's ingredients are cooked separately, combined, and cooked again.

 

The stromboli is an interesting case to me. To me it's clearly a sandwich, yet it's little more than a rolled pizza. So does rolling make it a sandwich or was it a sandwich before it was rolled? Wikipedia calls stromboli a turnover but I disagree.

 

Of course, this hearkens back to our thread of what is a sandwich and what isn't. 

 

http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/52409/difference-between-a-burger-and-a-sandwich

 

In that thread, shroomgirl dismisses the calzone as not a sandwich.

 

 

post #12 of 46

In the burger/sandwich thread, shroom also dithers about the quesadilla. Which makes me wonder more about the calzone when compared against a pupusa....

 

I don't think our culinary vocabulary is really capable of withstanding a multi-ethnic onslaught.

post #13 of 46

The term pizza is so difficult to define because it is often used to describe dishes that are not pizza at all but rather built like a pizza (apple pizza)  or contain traditional pizza flavorings (pizza Combos, Pizza rolls).

 

Pizza- An open pie with a yeast bread crust usually with savory toppings/filling. Traditionally believed to be of Italian origin, toppings often include (but not limited to) tomatoes or tomato based sauce, cheese and meats/vegetables.

 

This would then exclude nachos (no yeast) and open faced sandwiches (no crust). Likely it would exclude pizza flavored items as well- e.g. bagel pizzas, pizza wraps etc as they are not pies. But would include various exotic pizza topping combinations.

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post #14 of 46
Quote:

Originally Posted by the-boy-nurse View Post

Pizza- An open pie with a yeast bread crust usually with savory toppings/filling. Traditionally believed to be of Italian origin, toppings often include (but not limited to) tomatoes or tomato based sauce, cheese and meats/vegetables.



But then why a pie as opposed to a rustic tart?  PIes are more often used to describe something completely covered with the crust.

 

To me, pie for pizza is more an artifact of translation than culinary description. Though a traditional US pie does share the cooked from raw stage to a complete finished form with my description of pizza above.

post #15 of 46

Lots of pies are open, pumpkin, chocolate cream, lemon meringue... I would argue a rustic tart is also a pie. All flies are insects not all insects are flies. Rustic tarts are not leavened with yeast but rather have a pastry style crust. Therefore a rustic tart is pie but not a pizza, by my definition.

Did you like how I defined the rules for that argument?  Never said I fight fair.

Nurses, we're here to get our gloves dirty, and wash our hands frequently.
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post #16 of 46

So is a rolled pizza (stromboli) a pie, a turnover, a sandwich?

 

Is the pupusa a pie? Is then a tostada a pie?

post #17 of 46
Thread Starter 

I would call a stromboli a turnover, Phil. Don't know what a pupusa is.

 

Just by way of clarification:

 

When we were kids we made English muffin pizzas. By your definition they are misnamed, because the bread and the toppings are not baked together?

 

A rustic tart would not qualify, because it's partially covered by the folded edges, even if all other things were equal?

 

By your definition, Chicago style deep dish---which most people would call a casserole---actually qualifies as pizza?

 

Any flatbread which is baked first is not a pizza? Even though some restaurants (i.e., see Batali's comments in Molto Gusto) serve pizza made exactly that way?

 

On the other hand, based on Tyler's criteria, these would all be pizza?

 

Ya see. Y'all thought I was kidding when I said I really didn't know what pizza is.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #18 of 46

Again by my definition Stromboli, pizza flavored maybe, but not pizza, it's not open. Maybe it's a bread rolotini, call it what you want immaterial to the argument at hand, "what is a pizza?".

 

Papusa- stuffed pastry, stuffed flat-bread, pan-less pie, giant Mexican pasta... call it what you want same rule applies, not pizza,

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post #19 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

I would call a stromboli a turnover, Phil. Don't know what a pupusa is.

 

Just by way of clarification:

 

When we were kids we made English muffin pizzas. By your definition they are misnamed, because the bread and the toppings are not baked together?

 

A rustic tart would not qualify, because it's partially covered by the folded edges, even if all other things were equal?

 

By your definition, Chicago style deep dish---which most people would call a casserole---actually qualifies as pizza?

 

Any flatbread which is baked first is not a pizza? Even though some restaurants (i.e., see Batali's comments in Molto Gusto) serve pizza made exactly that way?

 

On the other hand, based on Tyler's criteria, these would all be pizza?

 

Ya see. Y'all thought I was kidding when I said I really didn't know what pizza is.



Yes, I would consider everything you listed to be pizza. Who are we to try to say what is and isn't a pizza? If you want to take a pita, slather it with pesto, and top it with cheese and call that a pizza, all I have to say is: make me one of those pizzas too please. 

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #20 of 46


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

 

When we were kids we made English muffin pizzas. By your definition they are misnamed, because the bread and the toppings are not baked together?

 

A rustic tart would not qualify, because it's partially covered by the folded edges, even if all other things were equal?

 


No, they are not pizza's because it's not a pie. Pie crust is often cooked prior to filling, again, see chocolate cream (my personal favorite).

Rustic tart doesn't qualify because it's crust not yeast leavened. 

As to Chicago deep dish, I don't like it, doesn't make it not pizza. Frozen pizza is considered "not pizza" by many people, it's still pizza just a bad version. Since when has popular opinion dictated reality?

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post #21 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by the-boy-nurse View Post

Since when has popular opinion dictated reality?


Since always. What is reality but our perspective of what surrounds us? Therefore, popular opinion is reality.
 

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #22 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by the-boy-nurse View Post

Since when has popular opinion dictated reality?



Since someone invented perception?

 

 

I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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post #23 of 46

If memory serves, once upon a time popular opinion held the earth was the center of the galaxy, the world was flat, bleeding was the best method of treated diseases, epilepsy was demon possession, microscopic organisms living on everything was preposterous... need I go on?

 

Reality exists independently of your opinion of it.

Perception is your understanding of reality and like all human perception, fundamentally flawed.

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post #24 of 46

Scientists then used their industry tools to convince people otherwise and a new school of thought was begun.  People's perceptions changed based on the new information.

 

Perception isn't static.

I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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post #25 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by the-boy-nurse View Post

If memory serves, once upon a time popular opinion held the earth was the center of the galaxy, the world was flat, bleeding was the best method of treated diseases, epilepsy was demon possession, microscopic organisms living on everything was preposterous... need I go on?



During those times, that was reality. Until someone could prove that reality wrong and change the popular opinion. Another significant difference here is we are talking about something that is abstract, not concrete. Something that is man-made, not natural. Anytime we try to classify man-made objects, perception and opinion drive reality.

"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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"We make our food; thereafter, our food makes us." - Winston Churchill (with a slight modification)
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post #26 of 46

KY, are you looking for how the word "pizza" is used in its country of origin?  For italians "pizza" means cake or pie, and i think i told of my astonishment when my mother in law looked at the chocolate cake i'd made and said, "Oh, you brought a pizza"!!!!

 

I just got back from Turkey and there there was a kind of bread called pida which is related to the word "pita" and both in word and in appearance are related to pizza, and i think there is probably not a culture in the world that eats bread that didn't originally eat some kind of flatbread cooked on a hot stone.  Interesting that the same root is used in languages of such diverse language groups. 

 

Anyway, i believe that in other regions (I'm in Latium, the region of Rome) the word Pizza generally refers to "Pizza Napolitana" which is what we call pizza in the states, with its tomato and mozzarella, but also friarelli and sausages ((brocolletti, or broccoli rape) or any number of other stuff on top (I've never encountered any pizza with chicken in any form but it would still be called pizza, even if looked at funny).  It can also be simply oil and salt, still pizza ("Pizza bianca").  Though even savory tarts and pies would likely be considered pizza. 

 

"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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"Siduri said, 'Gilgamesh, where are you roaming? You will never find the eternal life that you seek...Savour your food, make each of your days a delight, ... let music and dancing fill your house, love the child who holds you by the hand and give your wife pleasure in your embrace.'"
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post #27 of 46

Perception isn't static.

But reality is, therefore not dictated by perception, public opinion, political landscape, social pressures...

Nurses, we're here to get our gloves dirty, and wash our hands frequently.
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Nurses, we're here to get our gloves dirty, and wash our hands frequently.
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post #28 of 46

It looks like this thread is proof that the pizza reality is certainly dictated by perception and public opinion.

I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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I don't like food, I love it.  If I don't love it, I don't swallow.
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post #29 of 46

Siduri, I was just thiking about your MIL saying that.  So glad you showed up.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by KYHeirloomer View Post

KK, I don't understand the difference.

 

Are you saying that plating, rather than ingredients, are a determining factor? To me, a tortilla chip doesn't change it's nature just because you laid it flat instead of piling it randomly with its brothers.


Why yes that is what I'm saying.  It is the orientation of ingredients that defines a pizza is it not?  The fact that the tortilla chips form the base and the cheese and sauce form the toppings makes perfect sense to me.  Dough, cheese, and sauce can all have other orientations besides pizza can they not?  If you roll up a whole pizza is it still a pizza.... or is it a stromboli?  If you fold a pizza in half is it still a pizza or is it a calzone?  And though you may not like deep dish pizza it is sitll in fact a pizza.  You're calling it a casserole because you want to, but it doesn't change the fact that it is still a pizza.  Or should I say rather "To me, a pizza doesn't change its nature just because you piled it on thicker and bake it longer."


 

"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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"You are what you eat, so don't be fast, cheap, easy, or fake."

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post #30 of 46
Thread Starter 

Siduri, what I'm actually asking is if there really is some thing called pizza.

 

I know it's origins, and the way it was made in Naples. And I know what was meant by pizza when I was growing up. Pizza (or pizza pie, as it was called):

 

1. Was purchased in an Italian restaurant that mostly specialized in it, although other dishes were available. If you grew up in New York (as I did) you could also buy it as locations that specialized in selling it by the slice. There were no chains in those days.

2. Was built on a yeasted flat bread which was formed by stretching, not rolling. This produced a thin, slightly chewy crust, usually with a thicker bread-line ring around the edge.

3. Had a limited number of toppings. These always included tomato sauce and mozzarella cheese. Other common ones were pepperoni, mushrooms, and assorted veggies. And, of course, anchovies.

 

In short, it was one variation or another of Neopolitan pizza. No problems.

 

When I lived in Boston, a similar condition prevailed. Naturally, being a New Yorker I wasn't allowed to admit it, but some of the best pizza I've ever eaten was in the North End.

 

So, I thought I knew what pizza was.

 

Then I moved to the Chicago area. First time we had pizza it was unusual. The crust was thin, crispy, and had no bread edge. It was cut in little squares instead of wedges as it's supposed to be. And the less said about the toppings the better. And we discovered that thing called deep dish pizza. Deep dish, as I've said before, can be very tasty. But to me it's a casserole, not a pizza. Others, obviously, disagree.

 

And then I visited southern California, and was exposed to things like pizza topped with Canadian bacon and pineapple, and a host of other weird toppings. And the crust was usually rolled, rather than stretched, giving it a totally different consistency.

 

Now, on this thread, we have a number of opinions that are so diverse as to make the word "pizza" meaningless as a specific culinary term.

 

When you were in Turkey did you get to enjoy lamejun? Seems to me, most of the participants on this thread would consider that to be a pizza.

They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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