Tuesday, January 15, 2008

that's amore!

who doesn't like pizza? based on what I've learned about how much pizza is consumed, I'd say not many. the other day I heard the statistic that 350 slices of pizza are consumed in the united states every second. when I heard that I instantly thought: "no wonder almost a third of americans are overweight!" but this reaction comes from the quantity of pizza consumed, and is not a slam on pizza. in fact, pizza can be very healthy and nutritious.

ever since we became custodians to a bread machine, making pizza has become a weekly routine. and the pizza here on avenue c is very healthy and nutritious with toppings you won't find in your typical pizzeria. if we aren't going out, saturday is pizza night. sometimes friends come over and join us and we turn the evening into 'pizza and game night' or 'pizza and a movie night'. this weekend saturday was supposed to be pizza and scrabble night with l from next door.

unfortunately sometimes plans go awry. at 8 when the bell dinged indicating that the dough was ready I made an important discovery: confirm that the mixing basket for the bread machine is locked in. the bell dinged and in true pavlovian style I jumped up, ran to the machine only to discover that everything looked exactly like it did 1 hour and forty minutes ago! instead of waiting until after 10 to eat, we did the next best thing, picked up the phone and called for chinese take out (which leads me to wonder how much chinese take-out is consumed? I don't know about your neighborhood, but in mine for every pizza joint there's an equal number of chinese take-out places!). in terms of saturday, no worries the food was fresh, delicious and delivered right to our door within twenty minutes (and only set us back 20 bucks!).

the upside to this misfortune was the menu for sunday was set and all the prep work was done! saturday was scrabble night and sunday was pizza and a movie night. e brought over her recently acquired copy of 3:10 to yuma, which she has proclaimed is her favorite movie of all time (hum, interesting.....wonder what that says about her psyche!). sunday e, f, l and I with canine companions munched on pizza and via the magic of film escaped a wintry evening in cleveland to the wild west and the land of outlaws, ranchers, greedy land-grabbers, saloon society and posse. like many westerns 3:10 to yuma is a morality tale of good vs evil; but in yuma, as in "real" life's good vs evil, the tale told illustrates that things aren't often black and white but all shades of gray. I can't say 3:10 to yuma qualifies to be my favorite movie of all time, but I will say it was purty darned good. if you like a exciting yarn with all the elements of a classic western (and can handle modern movie violence) check it out - I give it two (enthusiastic) thumbs up!

pizza factoids:

Americans eat approximately 100 acres of pizza each day, or 350 slices per second.

Pizza is a $30 billion per year industry.

There are approximately 61,269 pizzerias in the United States. (Source: American Business Lists, Omaha, Nebraska.)

Each man, woman and child in America eats an average of 46 slices (23 pounds) of pizza a year. (source: Packaged Facts, New York)

Approximately 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year.

Italian food ranks as the most popular ethnic food in America. (Courtesy of the National Restaurant Association)

According to a recent Gallup Poll, kids between the ages of 3 to 11 prefer pizza over all other food groups for lunch and dinner.

pizza history

Basic pizza most likely began in prehistoric times, with bread cooked on flat, hot stones.

Roughly 1,000 years ago herb-and-spice-covered circles of baked dough grew exceptionally popular in Naples, Italy. Known as focaccia, these rounds were served as an appetizer or a snack. (Source: Smithsonian)

Pizza developed in Italy in pre-refrigerator times. After focaccia, its most direct ancestor was "Casa de nanza," which means "take out before." Housewives would pound out dough into a thin crust and place leftovers on to bake. Pizza was a peasant food designed to be eaten without utensils and, like the French crepe and the Mexican taco, was a way to make use of fresh produce available locally and to get rid of leftovers.

But pizza as we know it could not have evolved until the late 1600s when Old World Europeans overcame their fear of a New World discovery - tomatoes. Native to Peru and Ecuador, a plant which produced yellow or red fruit (later called tomatoes) was introduced to Europe in the early 1500s. Brought back by Conquistadors to Spain, the tomato was thought to be poisonous and was viewed with suspicion. It wasn't until the late 1600s that Europeans began to eat the tomato. (Source: Smithsonian and PIZZA TODAY)

The peasants of Naples, Italy, who lived mostly off of bread and little else, were the first to add tomatoes to their focaccia bread rounds.

In 1830 pizza truly began with the opening of the world's first pizzeria. Named Port'Alba, the pizzas were cooked in an oven lined with lava from Mount Vesuvius, a volcano located on the Bay of Naples. (Source: Smithsonian)

Modern pizza was born in 1889 when Queen Margherita Teresa Giovanni, the consort of Umberto I, king of Italy, visited Naples. Don Raffaele Esposito, who owned a tavern-like place called Pietro Il Pizzaiolo, was asked to prepare a special dish in honor of the Queen's visit. Esposito developed a pizza featuring tomatoes, mozzarella cheese (a never before used ingredient made from the milk of water buffalo) and basil - ingredients bearing the colors red, white and green for the Italian flag. He named it the Margherita Pizza, after the guest of honor. Thus, the modern-day tomato-and-cheese pizza was born. (Source: Smithsonian and PIZZA TODAY)

Shops in the volcano-devastated city of Pompeii bear the characteristics of a pizzeria.

Marie Antionette's sister, Marie Carolina, wife of Ferdinand I of Sicily and Naples, had ovens built in the forest so she could enjoy pizza while the Royal Hunting Party feasted on wild ducklings and pigs killed in the hunt.

The popularity of pizza exploded throughout the country when World War II servicemen returning from Italy began opening pizzerias and raving about that "great Italian dish."

In 1905, Gennaro Lombardi opened the first licensed American pizzeria, Lombardi's Pizzeria Napoletana, at 53-1/2 Spring Street in New York City. (From The Art of Pizzaiolo, by John Thorn.)

America is the new pizza renaissance leader in the world and is exporting our technology of pizza production and promotion on an ever-increasing basis.

Pizza restaurants are opening in such unlikely locations as the Caribbean islands of Curacao and Bonaire; the South Pacific atoll of Palau; and in most Arab countries. The deep-dish pizza was invented in Chicago by pizza entrepreneur Ike Sewell. His restaurant, Pizzeria Uno, is still going strong today.

pizza factoids and pizza history courtesy of google - click for more


Salty Miss Jill said...

Oh my lord...was that goat cheese and spinach? Your pizzas look amazing! And hand-tossed dough, yet! I myself am a big fan of the Boboli...

Was that your husband doing the tossing?

Anonymous said...

i'm totally having pizza for dinner.

John Eaton said...

I just had some pizza and will have some more for breakfast with my coffee. It needs to season a bit overnight.

Happy New Year, Kim. :)

LadrĂ³n de Basura (a.k.a. Junk Thief) said...

Saturday nights used to be family pizza nights when I was within an hour of my parents and sister. Now I manage to give an anchovy or two to the cat.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

smj - good eye! yes since e was over we skipped the anchovies on the 'white' pizza - how we refer to the pizza that only has a bit of olive oil instead of red sauce. saturday's white was spinach, goat cheese, calamata olives, garlic and capers. it was delicious! the red was mozzarella, asiago, baby bella mushrooms, onions, garlic (always garlic) and bacon -- yeah, I know I lose points with you at this! ;(

that was my f tossing. in the days before we got custody of a bread machine, boboli was often our base for homemade pizza night.

g -lots of good pizza in chicago if you aren't making it oneself.

little bear - welcome back!! pizza for breakfast (cold) has always been my favorite!

jt - purrrrrfect your kitty is one lucky cat!

Reya Mellicker said...

100 acres of pizza a day? Yikes.

I'm one of the few Americans, apparently, who doesn't like pizza. I never have. Weird, eh? My ex husband is from New Haven, a place where pizza is worshipped like some kind of food deity. He kept promising me, in San Francisco, that when I tasted New Haven pizza, I would be converted instantly. I tried, but even New Haven pizza does not appeal to me.

I'm sure your pizza was lovely, though! Bon appetit!

mouse (aka kimy) said...

reya - well I always admire people who break away from the crowd! of course, you haven't tried f & my pizza!! but if you come for dinner I promise it won't be pizza night!

we lived in new haven for a few years and I did enjoy their take on pizza but sometimes found it greasy (we always favored sally's over pepe's in the GREAT DEBATE) new haven was the first place I ate white pizza with clams and garlic. after new haven we moved to hartford and we became big fans of pizza from 'first and last' - like the best of new haven, 'first and last' baked their pizza in brick ovens and favored unique toppings.

WAT said...

I love it, I love it, I love it! Pizza history at its finest! My kind of post, and on one of my favorite foods ever! I could use a nice slice or two with a good salad right now to strenghten me from this yucky flu.