Pizza the World Over
Pizza is an extremely popular and delicious food which started in Naples but is now served the world over. Although its production in Naples, Italy is still very tightly controlled and old-fashioned, pizza has developed a variety of different flavors and styles as it has travelled around the globe.
Frequently, pizza comes into a region along with a group of Italian immigrants. Although the pizza at first remains within the community of Italians who brought it into that region, as the Italians become more integrated into the community, so does their food. Generally pizza acquired within the core of Italian immigrants is still nearly traditional, but the pizza that starts to spread into the rest of the country acquires special flavors and topping which reflect the established cuisine of the culture. Here are some examples:
In the United States, pizza has developed many different regional forms, owing mostly to the wide and continuing impact of Greek and Italian immigrants in American culture. Some of these variations are so different as to be only vaguely resembling the original Neapolitan dish. Anyone who has travelled much in American will be familiar with “New York Style” pizza, as opposed to “Chicago Style,” deep-dish, thin-crust, or other varieties. Frequently American foods such as bacon double cheeseburgers, BBQ chicken, chili cheese dogs, or other foods will find their way onto a pizza in the state.
One surprising locale where pizza has really taken root is in Pakistan. It was introduced there as recently as 1993 by Mr. Manzar Riaz, who opened the country’s first pizza place. Pizza Hut also moved into Pakistan in the same year, perhaps sensing the same burgeoning desire for pizza consumption that tipped off Mr. Riaz. The impact of pizza in Pakistan has not been as great as in India, though; it is a popular and well-known dish in provinces like Kashmir, Sindh, and Punjab, but it basically impossible to find in Baluchistan and the creatively-named North-West Frontier Province. Despite its inability to crack into those coveted other regions, Pakistan’s pizza sales are second in volume only to sales in the Unites States. In fact, Pakistan is home to the world’s largest Pizza Hut which as seating for more than five thousands people, if you can imagine such a thing.
Despite the enormous volume of pizza sales in Pakistan, and the thousands of Pakistanis who apparently sit down to eat pizza in even one restaurant, Sao Paulo, Brazil still has the stones to call itself the “Pizza Capital of the World.” This isn’t too a crazy a claim, considering that 1.4 million pizzas are consumed in there every single day. As is common when Italians immigrants introduce pizza, the dish was not available in Brazil outside of Italian communities until the 1950s. As it has spread out and developed its own new Brazilian flair, pizza has become increasingly popular throughout the country. Generally, though, pizza there is still pretty close to the traditional Neapolitan fare, with a thicker, more substantial dough, and frequently having no tomato sauce at all.
One of the most heart-warming pizza success-stories is playing out even as we speak in Australia. You may not have known this, but a significant portion of the Australian population is descended from Italy, so I guess you could say they have pizza in their veins, although not literally of course as this would cause an extremely painful and deadly condition. Because the Australians have so much in common with those of Italian descent, the classic, traditional varieties are available in Australia, but there is also an Aussie style pizza which has bacon and egg on it and sometimes also prawns. A couple of decades ago the “gourmet pizzas” began to be popular in Australia, with smoked salmon, dill, kangaroo meat, and other goofy Australian thins on top of them, but probably not boomerangs, let’s be honest.
Pizza is just one of many foodstuffs with a long and storied history which has spread across the world and changed as it went, but it is a very interesting case. It shows how a variety of different people are able to take the same concept and adapt it to their own unique preferences.