Everybody loves pizza

Calda, tiepida o fredda e in qualsiasi variante, la pizza in America piace a tutti... Fatta in casa o acquistata in pizzeria, sono stati gli Italiani a creare uno dei più diffusi piatti americani!

I rarely pass up a chance to eat a piece of pizza. Hot pizza, warm pizza or cold leftover pizza, they all make my teeth smile. It would not be an exaggeration to say that pizza is one of America's most loved foods. It has been with us for so long and has undergone so many transformations that pizza has endeared itself to all America, and the world as well.

My earliest memories of pizza were as a child when my grandmother, mother and aunts all made pizza. But, there was only one style of pizza in those days. It was prepared at home with our own tomato sauce and grated cheese, usually eaten plain or occasionally wrapped around a piece of sausage.

I watched as pizza morphed from an Italian American staple into a designer food for everyone. I recall a neighborhood pizza shop that opened near my home in the mid fifties. It was a great little shop with French café tables and very good pizza. However, the grandmothers of the neighborhood put the malocchio on the shop and it closed after a short time. The grandmothers said that you can't sell pizza in an Italian neighborhood.

As time went by, we went out to pizza shops, but the style of pizza remained fairly basic -- mozzarella cheese replaced the grated cheese and pepperoni replaced the homemade sausage. We adapted to the pizza of the day and enjoyed what we ate.

In the seventies, pizza really grew up. Both my brother and brother-in-law opened pizza restaurants, an eat-in version of the pizzeria, similar to the growing popular chain pizza restaurants. They used only the best ingredients in the production of their pizza. Due to the volume of business, there were always plenty of pies made ahead, ready for their destined topping or toppings, then would be placed in the rotary style oven that could accommodate up to 15 large pizzas. Still, the pizza was delicious and extremely popular with the pizza restaurant crowd.

As we all know, if an item is popular, many people will try to duplicate it. Pizzerias opened on every other corner. Home delivery became popular and, of course, the taste of pizza delivered 10 to 20 minutes after it come out of the oven does not taste the same as hot pizza served right out of the oven. But, that is what America wanted, so that is what America got.

Frozen pizza was also on the scene about this time. They looked good, however, it was coated with every topping you could think of -- not your grandmother's pizza at all.

The popular current method of baking pizza is on a conveyer style. The pizza is dressed and placed on a screen and placed in the oven. It travels on the belt and when it comes out on the opposite end, it is baked to what most call perfection. I view this pizza as somewhat passable. The crust is very thin and for the most part takes on the appearance of the cardboard boxes in which they are delivered. I try not to be so critical, however I greatly miss the pizza of my youth.

My wife and I have taken up the practice of making our own pizza at home. We buy fresh dough at a local bread bakery and make sheet pizza with fresh tomato, fresh mozzarella and basil (Regina Margherita style). We also make a yummy pizza with anchovy oil, garlic and black pepper.

Recently a friend of ours opened a pizza shop in nearby Robinson Township, PA. At Paparazzi Pizza, the dough is to die for. It is crusty, hot and bubbly. It is made fresh daily with only the finest ingredients. Greg Jancosko is passionate about his dough and is driven to bake pizza pies in the old style. He labors with pleasure over the Blodgett oven and his pizza making is an art. The quality of his pizza returned that smile to my teeth once again.

I heard an interesting fact on National Public Radio the other day. Did you know that more pizza is sold on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving than on any other day of the year? People who are preparing the turkey don't have time to cook, therefore they send out for pizza.

So whether it has pepperoni, or pineapple or chicken on it, enjoy it. Remember, it was the Italians who created the most popular American dish.