Pizza Neapolitan, Greek, Chicago: how are the eight different styles of the Italian dish that conquered the world different?
Neither the Roman roads nor the Renaissance, not even the Pope: the Italian invention with the most international success is the pizza, which celebrates its World Day on February 9.
This day is just one more excuse to get hold of the beloved dish, so popular in Naples (considered the cradle of its creation) as in New York, Buenos Aires or Australia.
Like all the great gastronomic creations, the pizza has been evolving, acquiring different configurations in each place where it has been settling. In fact, his direct background can not even be considered strictly Italian.
As the journalist and historian John Dickie explains in his book ¡Delizia !, the epic story of Italian food (Debate), the word “pizza” probably shares its origin with the Greek “pitta” and the Turkish “pide”: an ancestral family of flatbreads.
Although there are references to pizza since the 18th century, the word was used generically to refer to all kinds of cakes and for what was known as focaccia or schiacciata in other parts of Italy, that is, a flat piece of spiced dough with fat or oil and cooked quickly in a hot oven. “It’s a recipe so habitual that,” as Dickie explains, “it would not make sense to try to look for its concrete origins.”
Its current form -with tomato and cheese as basic ingredients- had to appear at the end of the 19th century in Naples and its surroundings and, from there, it was extended by the hand of the Italian emigrants who made the dish enormously popular in countries such as Argentina or the United States. United, where pizza is now as consumed as in Italy. They were born different styles of pizza, whose history and development deserves to be reviewed.
These are the eight main types of pizza from which all the different local variations that we find today:
Although the Neapolitans insist that the real pizza emerged in 1889 in honor of the Queen of Italy, Margarita de Saboya , and as a tribute to her flag -the green oregano, the white mozzarella and the tomato red-, the truth is that the plate should appear long before this popular legend was generated.
The elaboration of Neapolitan pizza is even recognized by Unesco as Intangible Heritage of Humanity , defined as “culinary practice consisting of preparing in four stages the mass of a pizza and bake it with wood fire , turning it around”.
Neapolitan pizza is distinguished, above all, by preparing directly at the base of a wood oven at a very high temperature (between 450 and 500 degrees) for only one minute. Its size is individual (a diameter no larger than 35 cm), has a very narrow edge and always carries few ingredients.
New York Pizza
Pizza is one of the star dishes of the Big Apple, where a peculiar style has been developed for decades, which, curiously, has been more imitated outside of Italy than Neapolitan pizza itself.
This style, in more or less accurate versions, is the most common in pizzerias serving at home , including large chains such as Pizza Hut, Papa Johns, Domino’s or Telepizza itself. But like everything in this life, it can be done well, badly or regularly.
Good New York pizzas have a rather fine base , but they are larger than Neapolitan pizzas , about 45 cm, and are meant to be served in portions or to share. The dough is also different: it usually has a higher content of gluten, yeast and water, and in addition to olive oil, sugar is usually added. Neapolitan pizza is always made with crushed natural tomato, but in New York (as in almost everyone outside of Italy) tomato sauce is used, which is usually spiced with garlic, oregano and / or chilli pepper. Neither fresh mozzarella is used, but drier, sliced or grated.
The pizza al taglio literally “cut pizza” – is a variety of pizza that is found throughout Italy, but is especially popular in Rome, Genoa and Sicily. The pizza is made in large rectangular trays and sold by weight, to be taken outside the premises. The establishments usually count on pizzas of many flavors, normally with one two ingredients, configured according to the local tastes.
As Alberto Gimeno explains in Cómeme la pizza , “the dough usually has more hydration and, by letting it rise, it becomes more spongy, enough to hold the cheese well and the ingredients that are poured over it”.
We return to the American continent to talk about the Argentine pizza, which is characterized by being much more spongy than the pizzas we have talked about so far. This happens because more yeast is thrown into the dough, which reduces the waiting time and causes the mixture to rise higher.
In Argentine restaurants the dough is already pre-baked and prepared very quickly adding the ingredients and cooking almost immediately. They are usually made in metal trays and are characterized, in addition, by carrying a lot of cheese, much more than the rest of the pizza.
The most classic Argentine pizza is the fugazzeta , which only has cheese and onions.
This style of pizza is typical of Sicily , and it is difficult to find outside of this island. The literal translation of his name, which comes from the Sicilian language, not from Italian, is “fluffy pizza” . Some establishments call Sicilian pizza pizzas that serve with square shape, which is the typical form of this pizza, but do not always use another dough.
Pizza sfincione is characterized by having a mass more similar to Argentina and, also, for never having mozzarella: it is made only with tomato sauce and, as additives, onion, anchovies, oregano and a little Sicilian cheese.
Chicago style pizza
The typical Chicago pizza, also known as deep-dish pizza , is characterized by being made in wide molds, to increase the thickness of the pizza , as if it were a cake.
The dough is also different, because the wheat flour is mixed with a little corn flour , and placed on the mold previously smeared in oil, which makes it slightly toasted. The inside is filled with lots of tomato and mozzarella cheese, and topped with Italian sausage or pepperoni. We recently published a recipe adapted from this type of pizza.
Interestingly, the Greek pizza is not Greek, if not a type of pizza very popular in the Boston area that began to elaborate the Greek immigrants in the area. Judging by the description that makes the variety Terrence Doyle in Munchies is no wonder: “It is defined by the elements that should not be part of a good pizza: thick, moist dough; fatty cheese of any kind or specific origin; and tomato sauce made by some lover of dried oregano “.
The pizza is cooked in well-oiled pans with olive oil, which makes them half fried , and they carry a huge amount of cheese, which results in a particularly greasy pizza that, despite this -or perhaps because of this- is tremendously popular in Massachusetts.
The pinsa is a variety of pizza that in recent years has begun to spread through Rome and New York , even reaching Madrid . It is supposed to be an antecedent of the pizza that is prepared with a mixture of flours (soy, rice and wheat) and virgin olive oil. The result is a lighter and crunchier base with a fermentation that reaches 72 hours and is more digestive.
These origins are not true – especially considering that soy did not reach Europe until the twentieth century – and we are sure, before a modern invention , but that will have to talk in the coming years and deserves to be included in this list .