Why is pizza round, packed in a squared box, and cut into triangles? What seems like a funny joke might have a logical explanation. In fact, everything related to food has a reason in Italy. Ingredients, ways to process and cook, store and serve. There are many unwritten and written rules that always aim at the same result: pleasure. Why do you pair those ingredients? Because the results will taste good. Why do we choose one type of pasta instead of another? Because that one type will pair that sauce better.
I had fun searching for the frequently asked questions about
So let’s talk about this renowned specialty from Naples, and investigate the frequently asked questions about it.
1. Why is pizza round put in a square box and cut into triangles?
Let’s start with what looks look like a joke. Many cooks agree that the round shapes allow them to cook it in the best way possible. The round shape, in fact, allows the dough to receive heat everywhere in a homogeneous way. I guess the same applies to cakes which traditionally present a round shape too. Moreover, it seems the round shape can be managed better when the pizza maker has to transfer it into the oven with a shovel.
The box shape, on the contrary, is due to the fact that it is less expensive to produce therefore they help keep the price low.
And finally, when cutting pizza into triangles we are sure that all the pieces are the same. So that in case you don’t have enough pizza for everybody, nobody will meet more than the others. Hopefully.
2. Does pepperoni pizza exist in Italy?
Pepperoni pizza exists in Italy but it is not what you might have in mind. Peperoni, with just one p, is a vegetable, more precisely pepper or capsicum. So if you ask for pepperoni pizza you will get it with pepper. For the so-called “pepperoni” as you mean it, you have to ask for salami.
Generally, pizza with salami is called: diavola, female devil, with hot salami.
3. Does pineapple belong on a pizza?
No. Pineapple is an exotic fruit for us. Traditionally we do not cultivate pineapple in Italy, therefore we do not have it on pizza. I also think this has to do with the sour taste of pineapple which doesn’t properly match with mozzarella cheese and tomato, the main ingredient of pizza.
We also perceive pineapple pizza as something coming from America, therefore we prefer maintaining our own traditions and eventually exploring new possibilities with native produce.
But in case you want to try fruit on pizza, ask for a Gorgonzola e pere, that is gorgonzola cheese and pears. The strong flavor of this soft cheese perfectly matches the sweetness of pears. We also have a proverb that says: do not tell the farmer how good is cheese with pears, meaning that if you tell him, he will find it so good that he will eat all the cheese and pears he produces.
4. What is the best topping for pizza?
If you go to Naples, everybody will tell you that traditionally pizza has three varieties:
- Margherita, with mozzarella cheese and tomato sauce
- Marinara, with tomato sauce, garlic, oil, and oregano
- Napoli with tomato sauce, anchovies, and capers
I firmly recommend starting with these three. Less is more when we talk about Italian food, meaning that fewer ingredients are better to taste each delicacy at its best.
5. Who invented pizza?
This is probably the most difficult question to answer. The ingredients of the dough are flour, water, salt, and yeast. The same can be found in many preparations of all the countries facing the Mediterranean Sea: bread, pita, pitta, piadina… they all share the same ingredients and even the origin of the name. The use of yeast goes back to 3000 B.C. and many are the documents that state that the ancient world used to prepare a dish with a round shape that looked just like pizza.
However, the origins can be found between the 16th and 17th century in the Kingdom of Naples where people used to prepare the so-called Pizza Mastunicola, dough topped with sheep chees, lard, pepper, and basil. We have to jump to the 18th century to find Margherita, as we know it today. According to a story, but historians do not agree, it was invented for and named after Margherita of Savoy, Queen of Italy.
6. Is Pizza junk food?
No, no, and no. As long as you keep it simple, prepared it with few fresh ingredients, and eat the right quantity for you, pizza is a dish with all the macronutrients, complete and satisfying. I firmly believe that a healthy diet is made by what makes you and your body happy. Plus, many nutritionists suggest including pizza in our diet which is also part of the Mediterranean diet, rated as one of the best in the world.
7. What is the average price for a pizza in Italy?
Generally, the Margherita starts from 4/5 euros. I have never seen a Margherita costing more than 8 euros. More elaborate pizzas can cost from 7 to 10/12 euros. Consider that dining in a pizzeria with a pizza, a drink, and a dessert can cost less than 20 euros. There are some refined and “famous” restaurant pizzerias where prices are higher. I suggest going for traditional pizzeriasTo me, there is no point to spend 30 euros on a pizza.
8. Thick or thin?
According to the Neapolitan tradition, pizza has to be thin in the center with a thick crust. In some pizzerias in Naples, you can even find it with a crust filled with cheese or other ingredients!
9. What is the best way to cook pizza?
Definitely a wood oven. So check the cooking counter when you chose a pizzeria.
10. And what is your favorite?
Salsiccia (sausage) and friarielli. Friarielli is turnip greens in olive oil. You can find it almost all around Italy, but I suggest you eat it in South Italy.