One of the world's most popular foods along with the hamburger, fried chicken, and milk shakes is pizza. Although the origin of the first three foods is well understood, that of pizza —— until recently, anyway —— was for a long time an international controversy.
The word pizza has always been known to mean pie or cake, and is an Italian word. This fact alone might suggest pizza's origins. However, some years ago in New York City, a Chinese restaurateur challenged the Italian ethnicity of pizza by declaring that pizza was originally a Chinese food, but was then taken along with pasta by Marco Polo back to Italy. It seemed the question would never be solved.
The case actually made itself into court (only in America!). Italian restaurateurs challenged the Chinese businessman's view, but when all the evidence was in, the result was announced by a judge: as early as the Roman Empire, pizza was baked in ovens there and eaten. Chinese normally steam or fry their foods, not bake them. Bread and other baked goods to which pizza belongs were developed from India through Europe where they are still enjoyed today. Besides, cheese is an essential element of pizza, and the Chinese traditionally did not produce cheese. The case was closed, and pizza's paternity has now been established.
For pizza lovers, of course, their favorite food might have been invented in Argentina or Indonesia. Who cares? Indeed, pizza has changed as it has spread around the globe, so that when ordering a pizza in Honolulu, New York, Paris, Istanbul, New Delhi, or Tokyo, you are sure to receive a slightly different version in each city or country. Pizza known to Italians and New Yorkers (where pizza was first introduced into the United States by the many Italian Americans living there) is a round, thin-crusted baked dish covered with tomato sauce and cheese. To improve the taste, pieces of Italian sausages such as pepperoni and salami, and vegetables like onions, green peppers and olives are added. Occasionally, anchovies, small, salty fish, are also used. However, Asians enjoy pizza with corn, cucumbers, and other vegetables, not to mention assorted seafood. Hawaiians, perhaps predictably, developed a pizza with a pineapple and ham topping. Today, nearly every country has its favorite local variety of pizza. Worldwide, there must be more than 1,000 varieties of pizza.
Some people are not so fond of pizza. They classify it as a junk food, along with greasy French fries, potato chips, and hamburgers. On the contrary, say defenders of pizza, it is indeed a healthful food. Carefully chosen fresh ingredients can ensure the quality of any food we eat, and pizza is no exception.
Others protest that pizza is too fattening to be eaten regularly. Not true, respond those enamored of pizza's charms. It all depends on the ingredients and how well they are prepared. For example, the meats which are used as toppings on pizza are often first fried to remove excess fat. The cheeses used can be selected for their high protein but low milk fat. Sparse rather than generous addition of spices such as salt ensure that pizza need not be considered junk food. A well-made pizza not only looks, smells, and tastes great, but it is a wise choice for everyone as a regular food source. Indeed, it seems the only disadvantage to pizza is that when dropped, it causes a mess!
Children enjoy pizza because it's fun to eat and delicious. Workers enjoy it because it is inexpensive and quick to order, too. Families enjoy the convenience of carrying home a whole meal from the many vendors of this world-famous food. With its many advantages, no one needs to resist the allure of one of the world's most popular foods. Come to think of it, let's have pizza for dinner tonight!