What Is Pizza?

Discussion in 'Food & Cooking' started by kyheirloomer, Oct 28, 2010.

  1. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    On another thread there was a detour as some folk discussed pizza toppings.

    Got me to thinking--exactly what is pizza? Is it merely a flatbread with whatever toppings you choose to throw on it? Or is it a traditional red-sauce, mozzarella, and some meat or veggie toppings?

    I'm not looking for a best-of kind of discussion; nor a comparison of, say NY pizza to deep dish (we all know that whatever deep dish is, it is not pizza). But the simple fact is, Canadian bacon and pineapple is a long, long way from the pizza I grew up on.

    So, really, what, exactly, is pizza?
     
  2. tylerm713

    tylerm713

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    I'm very much an inclusionist in that I consider everything that meets three guidelines to be pizza. Those guidelines are 1)some sort of bread or crust 2) that is topped with some kind of sauce and 3) cheese and/or other toppings. Therefore, I consider even a pie topped with ham and pineapple (regardless of how much I loathe it) to be pizza. I have had pizza topped with many things, and there are some interesting combinations out there.
     
  3. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    It's a large  open-faced sandwich.
     
  4. kcz

    kcz

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    I think the definition has to be more specific.  Per Tyler, a plate of nachos is a pizza.  Per PHatch, a hot turkey sandwich with gravy is a pizza.

    I think it has to include a yeast-based crust baked with the toppings on it.  No tortillas, crepes, pitas, etc.  I think after that, different toppings are very debatable.
     
  5. tylerm713

    tylerm713

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    Chips don't equal bread or crust. Therefore, I wouldn't consider a plate of nachos to be pizza. I would consider them a plate of nachos. However, a crust covered in spiced ground beef, jalepenos, and cheese would be a pizza.
     
  6. koukouvagia

    koukouvagia

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    Was just posting a response to this topic on the tomato paste thread when DC sunshine and I went off on a pizza tangent.

    I am very loose on the definition of pizza.  Basically it is a starchy flattened base with toppings and then baked.  The base could be dough, pita, bread, tortilla, crepe, pancake, or bagel.  The sauce could be tomato, pesto, gravy, or have no sauce at all.  The toppings one can put on pizza are limitless.  I had a pizza once somewhere in umbria with just mozzarella and cream.

    My absolute favorite is thin crust with tomato sauce, mozz, mushrooms, canadian bacon, and cream cheese.

    In response to the nacho dilemma - nachos are nachos, they are not pizza unless the tortilla chips are laid out flat and side by side and then topped like this:

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3433/3257155428_bef5dd96d5.jpg

    But not like this:

    http://www.klove.com/BLOG/SCOTTANDKELLI/image.axd?picture=2010/2/nachos.jpg
     
  7. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    KK, I don't understand the difference.

    Are you saying that plating, rather than ingredients, are a determining factor? To me, a tortilla chip doesn't change it's nature just because you laid it flat instead of piling it randomly with its brothers.
     
  8. chefbazookas

    chefbazookas

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    In its best and most basic form, I consider pizza to essentially be a hand-kneaded, strong flour crust of no more than 4 mm thickness that comes out tender but crispy.  Extra-virgin olive oil would be added to the crispy crust and it would be topped with tomato, mozzarella and herbs, namely basil.  For me, anything beyond that is pizza 'plus'. 

    The only exception I'd make is regarding sauce.  I don't actually think sauce, in its most popular form, is included in my basic, ideal version.  I don't prefer the pre-made tomato sauces or the ones on the commercial pizza place pies.  If it's going to take sauce form, for me, it would include crushed tomatoes with their juices but no paste.

    This is contrary to the options I was presented with growing up which were pizzas from one of the various commercial pizza places (i.e. Pizza Hut, Dominos, etc.), or 'home-made' pizza from a box (Chef Boyardee kits).
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2010
  9. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Not at all. Two different things may both be sandwiches but that doesn't make them interchangeable. I don't consider a hot brown a pizza but I think they both fit into the sandwich classification.  I like the sandwich  classification wtih the bread crust, sauce for the dressing and so on.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2010
  10. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I don't consider a hot brown a pizza....

    Well thanks for that, Phil. Just the thought of it, and I'm wiping coffee off the monitor.

    .....but I think they both fit into the sandwich classification. 

    Which sort of begs the question. If the general class is "open faced sandwich," and pizza fits in the class, what are the unique aspects that differentiate it from others in the class?

    In short, why are hot browns---or a hot turkey sandwich, for that matter--not pizza?
     
  11. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    Primarily it is cooking the raw dough and toppings together into the completed form.  Now there are pizza relatives that do this too, like the Calzone or Stromboli, but those aren't open faced clarifying when it's pizza and not it's relatives. 

    The hot brown doesn't do that as most all of it's ingredients are cooked separately, combined, and cooked again.

    The stromboli is an interesting case to me. To me it's clearly a sandwich, yet it's little more than a rolled pizza. So does rolling make it a sandwich or was it a sandwich before it was rolled? Wikipedia calls stromboli a turnover but I disagree.

    Of course, this hearkens back to our thread of what is a sandwich and what isn't. 

    http://www.cheftalk.com/forum/thread/52409/difference-between-a-burger-and-a-sandwich

    In that thread, shroomgirl dismisses the calzone as not a sandwich.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2010
  12. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    In the burger/sandwich thread, shroom also dithers about the quesadilla. Which makes me wonder more about the calzone when compared against a pupusa....

    I don't think our culinary vocabulary is really capable of withstanding a multi-ethnic onslaught.
     
  13. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

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    The term pizza is so difficult to define because it is often used to describe dishes that are not pizza at all but rather built like a pizza (apple pizza)  or contain traditional pizza flavorings (pizza Combos, Pizza rolls).

    Pizza- An open pie with a yeast bread crust usually with savory toppings/filling. Traditionally believed to be of Italian origin, toppings often include (but not limited to) tomatoes or tomato based sauce, cheese and meats/vegetables.

    This would then exclude nachos (no yeast) and open faced sandwiches (no crust). Likely it would exclude pizza flavored items as well- e.g. bagel pizzas, pizza wraps etc as they are not pies. But would include various exotic pizza topping combinations.
     
  14. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    But then why a pie as opposed to a rustic tart?  PIes are more often used to describe something completely covered with the crust.

    To me, pie for pizza is more an artifact of translation than culinary description. Though a traditional US pie does share the cooked from raw stage to a complete finished form with my description of pizza above.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2010
  15. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

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    Lots of pies are open, pumpkin, chocolate cream, lemon meringue... I would argue a rustic tart is also a pie. All flies are insects not all insects are flies. Rustic tarts are not leavened with yeast but rather have a pastry style crust. Therefore a rustic tart is pie but not a pizza, by my definition.

    Did you like how I defined the rules for that argument?  Never said I fight fair.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2010
  16. phatch

    phatch Moderator Staff Member

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    So is a rolled pizza (stromboli) a pie, a turnover, a sandwich?

    Is the pupusa a pie? Is then a tostada a pie?
     
  17. kyheirloomer

    kyheirloomer

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    I would call a stromboli a turnover, Phil. Don't know what a pupusa is.

    Just by way of clarification:

    When we were kids we made English muffin pizzas. By your definition they are misnamed, because the bread and the toppings are not baked together?

    A rustic tart would not qualify, because it's partially covered by the folded edges, even if all other things were equal?

    By your definition, Chicago style deep dish---which most people would call a casserole---actually qualifies as pizza?

    Any flatbread which is baked first is not a pizza? Even though some restaurants (i.e., see Batali's comments in Molto Gusto) serve pizza made exactly that way?

    On the other hand, based on Tyler's criteria, these would all be pizza?

    Ya see. Y'all thought I was kidding when I said I really didn't know what pizza is. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/cool.gif
     
  18. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

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    Again by my definition Stromboli, pizza flavored maybe, but not pizza, it's not open. Maybe it's a bread rolotini, call it what you want immaterial to the argument at hand, "what is a pizza?".

    Papusa- stuffed pastry, stuffed flat-bread, pan-less pie, giant Mexican pasta... call it what you want same rule applies, not pizza,
     
  19. tylerm713

    tylerm713

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    Yes, I would consider everything you listed to be pizza. Who are we to try to say what is and isn't a pizza? If you want to take a pita, slather it with pesto, and top it with cheese and call that a pizza, all I have to say is: make me one of those pizzas too please. 
     
  20. the-boy-nurse

    the-boy-nurse

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    No, they are not pizza's because it's not a pie. Pie crust is often cooked prior to filling, again, see chocolate cream (my personal favorite).

    Rustic tart doesn't qualify because it's crust not yeast leavened. 

    As to Chicago deep dish, I don't like it, doesn't make it not pizza. Frozen pizza is considered "not pizza" by many people, it's still pizza just a bad version. Since when has popular opinion dictated reality?