Passion for good pizza and good food is a synthesis of tradition, innovation and research. For many Italians, the best traditional pizza is the pizza our grandmothers made. The quest has always been to find simple flavors in various combinations that are capable of surprising us.
Many who have thoroughly traveled across Europe will tell you that the best pizza is Neapolitan pizza. Base ingredients include the most tender of wheat flour, fresh peeled tomatoes, mozzarella and buffalo mozzarella, cold-pressed extra-virgin olive oil.
Pizza is as much a science as it is an art. All over Italy, as well as Paris and London, seminars are regularly offered in which experts all over the world discuss their own secrets to achieving excellence in pizza-making. They share novel ingredients and techniques for the preparation of pizza dough. Research in this area is as rigorous as research in any hard science.
The art and science of pizza is alive and well in North America. Just in the United States, over five million Italians immigrated between the 19th and 21st Centuries. Over 5% of the Canadian population is Italian. So it is no wonder that we can find just about every type of pizza in North America, and it is no wonder that the flavors are reminiscent of Old Italy.
There is another marvelous creation out there that many of us call pizza, and others call focaccia. Focaccia comes in as many varieties as pizza. Take your pick! Here are some popular favorites around the globe:
- Focaccia pizza with potato and fennel seed
- Walnut and blue cheese pizza
- Focaccia with pesto and zucchini flowers
- Vegetarian focaccia
- Focaccia with Gorgonzola
- Pizza Caribe
- Meat and potato pie
- Pizza with mushrooms
- Pizza Margherita
And of course, there are North American favorites that you won’t find in abundance in Italy, so in truth, it seems North America also possesses some cultural diversity that Europe does not enjoy. This diversity, when translated into the domain of pizza, includes the infamous pepperoni pizza and the Hawaiian pizza. Meat pizza is quite universal and comes in as many varieties as there are tastes, but no one is as fond of bacon as North Americans are. We love our bacon. We love our pineapple. We even love our pepperoni, which is commonly thought to be Italian in origin. It is not.
Italian sausage is sausage, and pepperoni is a processed version of sausage that is typically high in sodium nitrite. (“Pepperone” in Italy is a term that refers to various forms of peppers.) If you’re ever in Europe and long for a North American-style pizza, order a pizza with thinly-sliced, uncooked sausage.
Indulging in a variety of pizzas to find your favorite flavors, and remember that the key is in the multitude of combinations that would seem counter-intuitive at first glance. Don’t be afraid to experiment, whether you are cooking or ordering a custom-made pie in a restaurant, and you might just find a unique combination that stimulates taste buds you didn’t know you had. If you need some help getting started, here are a few more options to choose from:
- Pizza with spinach and pine nuts
- Asparagus Pizza
- Bacon and rosemary focaccia
- Pizza with peppers
- Cauliflower Pizza
- Pizza marinara
- Focaccia with chickpea flour and growth
- Pizza with escarole
- Yogurt Focaccia
- Focaccia Barese
- Olive focaccia
- Vegetarian focaccia