Dinner · Entrees · Lunch · Starchy Dishes

Taking a Peek at Pizza

My favorite memories eating pizza are when I would go down to the Oregon Coast with my family every summer and eat a delicious cheese pizza from the famous Pizza a’ Fetta at Cannon Beach, Oregon, one of the nation’s Top 50 pizza joints. Pizza is one of America’s most celebrated meals not only because of the several special events that occur while eating pizza (from birthday parties, to The Super Bowl, to romantic date nights, to those unforgettable all-night college study sessions), but it is also beloved for the several different ways it is eaten across America (My personal favorite is thin crust). Let’s take a look at the evolution of pizza throughout the world over time.

Pizza

Source: Royalty Free Image

Pizza and Pop Culture

Did you know that pizza is America’s most-used food emoji? Part of this might be due to the fact that not only is pizza one of America’s most popular (and most addictive) junk foods, but pizza delivery chains such as Domino’s make food delivery easier by allowing customers to customize their order, save it to their Domino’s profile, and order their favorite pizza by simply texting the pizza emoji to Domino’s restaurants. Food emoji text-to-delivery services have become a growing trend in the food industry. Part of the reason why text-to-delivery methods have been so effective, according to FireText Communications Holly Barber, is because text messaging is one of the most popular ways to communicate in modern society, customers want it, it is an untapped market, it is convenient, it is affordable and easy to use, and it is immediate and direct (“7 Reasons”). It will be very exciting to see how text-to-delivery methods unfold and how much food delivery will evolve in the future.

Pizza History

401px-Montabone_Luigi_18..-1877_-_Firenze_-_Margherita_di_Savoia_1851-1926

Queen Margharita of Savoy

Source: The Harlow

While pizza is famous as an Italian food, the first foundations of the dish were actually laid by the Greeks. In their early days, the Greeks topped baked, large, round flat breads with “oil, herbs, spices and dates” (“History”). Nobody knew about tomatoes at that time, though it is likely that the Greeks would have used them in a similar manner as Americans do today. Pizzas were originally enjoyed in the 18th century as plain flat breads without toppings, and were sold on the streets of Naples to the poor since they were inexpensive, delicious and satisfying. Because Queen Margharita and the Neapolitans took liking to the tomato, that tradition has continued into how we enjoy pizza today.

In 1889, Queen Magharita and her husband, Umberto I, toured her country in an effort to learn about the state of her kingdom as well as any new developments. Seeing several people in the streets nibbling on these large flat breads sparked her curiosity, and she ordered that these pizzas be brought to her. She loved the taste of these breads so much that she ordered Chef Raffaele Esposito to bake her a variety of delectable pizzas to choose from and bring them to the palace.

To honor the Queen, Chef Esposito prepared a very special pizza just for her, which included mozzarella cheese, fresh tomatoes, and basil (in representation of the Italian flag’s colors of red, white, and green).

Ever since Pizza Margharita became one of the Queen’s favorite foods, the popularity of pizza spread all across Italy, and soon all over the world. The people of bologna began to add meat to their pizzas, and Neopolitan pizza was quite popular as well, bringing “garlic and crumbly Neapolitan cheeses into the mixture as well as herbs, fresh vegetables, and other spices and flavorings” (“History”). At this time the idea of baking in special brick ovens began to surface and the bread, as it is today, was a straightforward combination of flour, oil, salt and yeast.

Pizza and Politics

Ever since an ingenious woman famously made the news for pretending to order pizza while actually contacting the police for help during a domestic violence incident, pizza has become a symbol to the anti-domestic violence movement. Because this woman came up with an unconventional way of seeking domestic violence assistance (involving pizza), the woman’s action has not only become subject of a viral Super Bowl anti-domestic violence ad, but the news media has also heavily advertised this new pizza-centered solution as a viable option to give domestic violence victims the care they need. This action is not only a creative way to receive help, it is also an extremely necessary one. Men and women need new ways to escape domestic violence situations for a variety of reasons, according to the Los Angeles Police Department. Some of these include:

• The victim loves the batterer… the batterer is not always violent.

• The victim fears the batterer.Often threats are made against the victim, for example, the batterer will kill the victim if the beatings are reported to anyone. Police, in the victim’s eyes, offer no long-term protection from the batterer.

• The victim may be economically dependent on the batterer and, not having a marketable job skill, the victim has no realistic alternative to the batterer’s financial support.

• Often the batterer is the victim’s only psychological support system, having systematically destroyed the victim’s other friendships. Other people also feel uncomfortable around violence and withdraw from it.

• Often the victims stays for the sake of the children “needing a father,” or the batterer may make threats of violence against the children if the victim tries to leave. The batterer frequently threatens to take the children away from the victim if the victim leaves, and the victim believes the batterer.

• The victim believes law enforcement and judicial authorities in some jurisdictions may not take domestic violence seriously, hence the victim believes the batterer is often not punished or removed from the victim. Yet any attempts by the victim to consult authorities are seen as a threat by the batterer and he/she may beat the victim for that.

• Sometimes the batterer is otherwise well respected or mild mannered, so the victim’s concerns are not taken seriously. Often the batterer is violent only with the victim and frequently concludes there is something wrong with the victim.

• The victim may rationalize the beatings, believing that the victim must have “deserved” the “punishment” or that the batterer was just “too drunk” to know what the batterer was doing (beliefs the batterer propagates).

• The battering takes place during a relatively short period of time. Afterwards the batterer may be quite gentle, apologetic, loving, and may promise never to beat the victim again.

If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, a variety of resources are available to get help. These include shelters, hotlines, and counseling services. For more information regarding domestic abuse services, visit the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN) website or contact the national sexual assault helpline at (800) 656-HOPE (4573).

Epicurious Margherita Pizza Recipe

pizza margherita margarita italian american
Photo Credit: Romulo Yanes

 

INGREDIENTS

1. For dough:

• 1 (1/4-ounce) package active dry yeast (2 1/4 teaspoon)

• 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, divided, plus more for dusting

• 3/4 cup warm water, divided

• 1 teaspoon salt

• 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

2. For topping:

• 1 (14-to 15-ounces) can whole tomatoes in juice

• 2 large garlic cloves, smashed

• 2 tablespoons olive oil

• 4 basil leaves plus more for sprinkling

• 1/4 teaspoon sugar

• 6 ounces fresh mozzarella, cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices

3. Equipment: a pizza stone

PREPARATION

1. Make dough:

  •  Stir together yeast, 1 tablespoon flour, and 1/4 cup warm water in a large bowl and let stand until surface appears creamy, about 5 minutes. (If mixture doesn’t appear creamy, discard and start over with new yeast.)
  •  Add 1 1/4 cups flour, remaining 1/2 cup water, salt, and oil and stir until smooth. Stir in enough flour (1/4 to 1/3 cup) for dough to begin to pull away from side of bowl. (Dough will be slightly wet.)
  • Knead on a floured surface, lightly reflouring when dough becomes too sticky, until smooth, soft, and elastic, about 8 minutes. Form into a ball, put in a bowl, and dust with flour. Cover with plastic wrap or a kitchen towel (not terry cloth) and let rise in a draft-free place at warm room temperature until doubled, about 1 1/4 hours.

2. Make tomato sauce while dough rises:

  • Pulse tomatoes with juice in a blender briefly to make a chunky purée.

Cook garlic in oil in a small heavy saucepan over medium-low heat until fragrant and pale golden, about 2 minutes. Add tomato purée, basil, sugar, and 1/8 teaspoon salt and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until thickened and reduced to about 3/4 cup, about 40 minutes. Season with salt and cool.

3. Heat pizza stone while dough rises:

  • At least 45 minutes before baking pizza, put stone on oven rack in lower third of electric oven (or on floor of gas oven) and preheat oven to 500°F.

4. Shape dough:

Do not punch down. Dust dough with flour, then transfer to a parchment-lined pizza peel or large baking sheet. Pat out dough evenly with your fingers and stretch into a 14-inch round, reflouring fingers if necessary.

5. Assemble pizza:

  •  Spread sauce over dough, leaving a 1-inch border (there may be some sauce left over). Arrange cheese on top, leaving a 2- to 3-inch border.
  • Slide pizza on parchment onto pizza stone. Bake until dough is crisp and browned and cheese is golden and bubbling in spots, 13 to 16 minutes. Using peel or baking sheet, transfer pizza to a cutting board. Cool 5 minutes. Sprinkle with some basil leaves before slicing.

Cooks’ notes:

•Dough can be allowed to rise slowly in the refrigerator (instead of in a warm place) for 1 day. Bring to room temperature before shaping.

•Tomato sauce can be made 5 days ahead and chilled.

Sources:

Domestic Violence: Los Angeles Police Department. “Reasons Why Battered Victims Stay With the Batterers.” Official Site of the Los Angeles Police Department. Los Angeles Police Foundation and The Los Angeles Police Department, 2015. Web. 28 December 2015.

“History of the Pizza.” Bella Napoli Pizzeria. Bella Napoli Pizzeria, 2015. Web. 28 December 2015.

“Now You Can Text a Pizza Emoji to Order Domino’s.” Creativity Online. Creativity. 15 June 2015. Web. 28 December 2015.

Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN). Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network. 2009. Web. 28 December 2015.

Rugerio, Maggie and Roberts, Melissa. “Pizza Margherita.” Epicurious. Conde Nast, 2015. Web. 12 January 2016.

“Super Bowl Ad Highlights Hidden Nature of Domestic Violence.” CNN. Cable News Network, 2 February 2015. Web. 28 December 2015.

“What Food Emoji Does America Use Most Often? (Thanksgiving Edition).” Swiftkey Blog. TouchType Ltd. 2015. Web. 23 November 2015.

“7 Reasons Why SMS Marketing Works.” SMS Marketing Blog. FireText Communications Ltd. 2015. Web. 28 December 2015.

© 2016 Meagan Nelson & Dinner and Democracy. All Rights Reserved.

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