How Much Do You Know About Pizza?

by Kevin Burton

   The average American eats 46 slices of pizza per year, about six full pizzas, according to a Baltimore-area restaurant. 

   Some of you slackers are dragging that average down. Not me. 

   Somehow though, the annual National Pizza Day escaped my notice until after it passed Feb. 9.  Making up for lost time and lost pepperoni was a focus of the previous weekend and the one to come, as I mentioned Wednesday (“My Pizza Weekend Goes Into Overtime,” Feb. 24).

   The Burtons are gearing up to make homemade pizza for the first time. In the meantime I’m passing along some pizza info from the website of DeNiro’s Pizza a restaurant in Perry Hall, Maryland specializing in Greek-style pizza.

   The website claims that nobody knows the origin of the word pizza. That’s hard to believe. It says the word “was first documented around 997 AD in Gaeta, Italy.”   

   The Merriam-Webster entry is less certain than usual. The dictionary says the word is “Italian, perhaps of Germanic origin akin to old high German “bizzo” or “pizzo” bite, bit, or “bizan’ to bite. 

   The Official Scrabble Players dictionary, sixth edition, includes the bizarre word “za” to mean a pizza.  That’s officially jive. Please let me know the next time someone asks you if you would like a “za” for dinner. 

   One more pizza word nobody will ever use: “cornicione.”  That is the official name for pizza crust. “No matter what you call it, your kids won’t eat it,” the website says.

   A few other slices of pizza knowledge from DeNiro’s:

   World War II helped bring pizza to the masses.
   “Before World War II, pizza was mostly enjoyed by Italian immigrants in their home communities. During the occupation of Italy, Allied troops began eating local foods to supplement sometimes dwindling rations. The local bakers could hardly keep up with the US soldiers’ demand for pizza, and when they came home after the war they brought their love for pizza back with them.”

   The Hawaiian pizza was invented in Canada.
   “It was invented in 1962 by Sam Panopoulos, a native of Greece who was running a pizzeria in Ontario, Canada. Bored with only having three toppings available mushroom, bacon, or pepperoni he took down a can of pineapples from the top shelf and decided to throw it on pizza. The rest is history.”

  Dough-spinning has its own professional-level sporting event
   “At the World Pizza Championships you would be competing against the best in five competitive events, Freestyle Acrobatic Dough Tossing, Fastest Dough, Largest Dough Stretch, Fastest Pizza Box Folding and the Pizza Triathlon. There’s also the masters division of Freestyle Acrobatic Dough Tossing.”

  The U.S. Military Lab recently invented a ready-to-eat pizza
   “This handy pizza can last for up to three years. Intended for soldiers abroad who just have to have a slice. Making its grand entrance in 2017 solders can open MRE #37 and enjoy their treat!”

    There are 26,484 books on Amazon about pizza
   “If you go to Amazon and search for “Pizza Books” you will be bombarded with 26,484 results. Wow, a lot of people must really like to read about pizza!”

   Cristian Dumitru of Romania ate 200 pounds of pizza in a week
   “This is one of those records that makes you do a double take! It’s true, in 2006 Cristian Dumitru set a new world record surpassing Takeru Kobayashi by eating 200 pounds of pizza in a week.”

   You may think I am getting close to challenging this record but I’m not, I promise!

   According to industry magazine Pizza Today, there is an international pizza expo held in Las Vegas each year.  DeNiros warns us not to book airfare for Vegas planning to sample the world’s best pizza. This is an event for industry types. 

   I wouldn’t go anyway.  If you are in a foreign country and you order pizza, you may not get an unpleasant surprise.  The worst pizza I ever had was in Mexico. There was no sauce to speak of and the meats were definitely inferior quality.

   Also DeNiro’s says in Japan, they put mayonnaise on their pizza and in India the most popular topping is tofu. 

   Whatever we come up with this weekend will be better than that!  I’ll let you know how it goes in tomorrow’s post. Stay tuned!

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