The Ancient Greeks covered their bread with oils, herbs, and cheese. The Romans developed placenta, a sheet of flour topped with cheese and honey and flavored with bay leaves. Finally, modern pizza as we know it, originated in Italy as the Neapolitan pie with tomato. Cheese was added in 1889.
King Ferdinand I (1751 to 1825 - King variously of Naples, Sicily, and the Two Sicilies from 1759 until his death) is said to have disguised himself as a commoner and, in clandestine fashion, visited a poor neighborhood in Naples. According to one popular theory, he wanted to sink his teeth into a food that the queen had banned from the royal court - pizza pie.
Fast Facts on Pizza
- The Ancient Greeks dined on a flat bread called "plakous" which they topped with herbs, onion, and garlic.
- In the late 1800s, in Naples, Italians added tomatoes to flat bread that at time only included olive oil, lard, cheese and herbs. The dish caught on!
- In 1905, a man named Gennaro Lombardi claims to have opened the first pizzeria in the U.S. in New York City.
- Americans, on average, eat almost 350 slices of pizza each second!
- Three billion pizzas are sold annually; no wonder that pizza is a $30 billion industry today!
- Close to 40 per cent of all pizzas sold are pepperoni pizzas.
- Other popular toppings include onions, extra cheese, and green pepper. The least popular topping is -- you guessed it -- anchovies.
- Some intriguing topping that one might be tempted to sample include oysters, dandelions, and peanut butter and jelly!
- While Americans prefer meat toppings, a popular pizza topping in Japan is squid and tofu.
- In India tandoori chicken and chili paneer are favorites.
- Brazilians enjoy green peas on a pizza while Russians top it with mockba -- a mix of sardines, tuna, mackerel, salmon and onions.
- The original Italian pizza was made with green peppers and mozzarella cheese.
- The original Greek pizza was simply crust and vegetables -- no cheese!
- Pizza Pie Day is February 9th
- October is National Pizza Festival Month.
Positives of Pizza Pie
European nutrition research on the eating habits of people with cancer of the mouth, esophagus, throat or colon showed those who ate pizza at least once a week had less chance of developing cancer. The secret is probably lycopene, an antioxidant chemical in tomatoes, which is thought to offer some protection against cancer, and which gives the fruit its red color.
Negatives of Pizza Pie
The negatives of pizza pie is that it can be high in saturated fat, salt and calories - but it's all in how you make it, or even how you order it.
Notable Nibble: Pizza Hut has been criticized for a high salt content in some of their meals, which were found to contain more than twice the daily recommended amount of salt for an adult.
Largest Pizza Pie Ever
The largest pizza was at the Norwood Pick 'n Pay hypermarket in Johannesburg, South Africa. According to the Guinness Book of Records the pizza was 37.4 meters (122 feet 8 inches) in diameter and was made using 500 kg of flour, 800 kg of cheese and 900 kg of tomato puree. This was accomplished on December 8, 1990.
Pizza Producers Prize
Thursday, 4 February 2010: BBC News reported that The Traditional Speciality Guaranteed label on Naples pizza was approved by The European Union. Producers can charge more but must also follow set standards. They must use only San Marzano tomatoes and fresh buffalo mozzarella cheese.
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