In praise of pizza

  • TEXT EMILY BARTELS
  • ILLUSTRATION BROSMIND

Crusty, tasty and usually topped with cheese, pizza is more than just a popular comfort food; it’s a ceremonial object, a cultural artifact and an ambassador of peace

Olive oil is a common pizza topping

Delicious Discovery

Pizza was invented some 200 years ago when southern Italians began topping their baked flatbread with olive oil, oregano and slices of tomato.

There is a great diversity of pizzas

Definition Dilemma

Pizza in Chicago is made in a pan and has a fluffy crust, pissaladière from Nice has lots of onions and Lebanese zaatar manoushe uses no tomato sauce.

Lobster was part of the very expensive pizza topping

Proposterous price

The world’s most expensive pizza to date was the Pizza Royale 007, which cost 3850 euros and was topped with caviar, lobster and gold dust. Chef Domenico Crolla from Glasgow created it in 2009 and auctioned it off for a good cause.


 

Pizza Hut sent a peperoni pizza to the ISS

Space stunt

In 2001, Pizza Hut sent a pepperoni pizza to the Russian cosmonauts on board the International Space Station. The American pizza chain paid the Russian space agency Roskosmos a cool one million dollars for the rocket delivery and PR campaign.

The Pizza Rule Book

Strict specifications

The Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana is dedicated to preserving the Neapolitan pizza and has an eightpage rulebook setting out exactly how it should be prepared. The dough has to rest for at least eight hours and when rolled out, should be at most four millimeters thick.


 

Hexacopters can deliver pizza

Drone delivery

The pizza chain Domino’s wants to start using a hexacopter to deliver pizza in New Zealand. It will navigate using GPS and let the pizza down on a rope.
Its top speed: 30 kilometers an hour.

Antica Port'Alba was the name of the very first pizzeria

Pizzeria premieres

The very first pizzeria was Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba, which opened in Naples in 1830. Outside Italy, Lombardi’s was the first to open – in New York City in 1905.

Leoparding is what pizza bakers call the spots on a pizza

Animal attraction

“Leoparding” is what pizza bakers call the brown, slightly burnt spots that can appear on the crust and base.


 

A hot pizza oven

Asian ancestry

The precursors to the pizza originated not in Italy but in the Middle East, where people were baking thin flatbreads with no topping more than 2000 years ago – to test the temperature of their ovens.

The "Vera Pizza Napoletana" seal is rare in Germany

Bona-fide bakers

657 pizzerias in 38 countries bear the “Vera Pizza Napoletana” seal. Two hundred are in Italy and 54 in Japan. In Germany, the restaurants Malafemmena in Berlin and the Pergola in Kaufbeuren are the only ones to hold this distinction.


 

Smuggling heroin in tomato cans

Dubious deal

The Pizza Connection was a drug ring operated by the Sicilian Cosa Nostra. It smuggled heroin into the United States from Sicily (often in tomato cans) and distributed it through its own pizzerias

Pizza cutter

Crazy collection

The Pizza Brain museum in Philadelphia has the world’s largest collection of pizza artifacts, including tree decorations, record sleeves and a pizza cutter shaped
like the starship Enterprise.

Tinned tomatoes

Full-bodied fruit

The best tomato sauce is evidently made from the San Marzano variety, a sweet plum tomato with low acidity. It is grown near Mount Vesuvius, roughly half an hour’s car ride from Naples.