If you're like most of the world. you've fallen in love with pizza. Pizza takes different forms all over the world, but there are probably some things you didn't know about the cheesy tomato pie you're about to eat. Here are some awesome pizza facts you may not have known about:
1. The very first pizzas did not have any cheese, or even any tomatoes. The first Italian flat breads were baked on stones and seasoned with herbs. They were used almost like tortillas are used in Latin cultures—as a vehicle for stews and other heartier parts of a meal. Tomatoes didn't become part of standard pizzas until the 18th century.
2. The most authentic pizzas are Neapolitan pizzas. The first pizza that combined cheese, basil, and tomatoes was actually prepared as symbol of patriotism for Italy—each component served to represent the country colors. It was presented to the Queen Margherita as a gift in 1889. Now, the pizza is still made in the same way and is named after the queen.
3. Italian pizzas are traditionally smaller than American pizzas because they often use fresh ingredients, including fresh cheeses and tomatoes. The liquid bakes out as the pizza is cooking, creating more liquid in the center of the pie. A large pizza would not be as crispy, and the dough would not bake as thoroughly. Therefore, true Neapolitan pizza is much smaller than your standard 14" American pepperoni.
4. Marinara pizza, which is prepared without cheese, is called "marinara" because it was the traditional flat bread served to fishermen returning to Naples after a long day of fishing in the bay. Marinara sauce is named after this custom as well. This pizza is now served with anchovies and garlic, as well a hefty amount of delicious seasoning.
5. The best mozzarella cheese used on authentic Italian pizza is not made from cow's milk. It is made from the prized milk of the water buffalo that are native to Italy. The milk is much more suited for making cheese because of it's high fat and casein content.
6. Some pizzas are baked for up to 90 seconds in an oven that heats to 800 degrees Celsius. Most pizza places use high heat to ellicit beautiful flavor from the crust, but Neapolitan pizza places cannot be certified without this intense and precise cooking method. Usually these ovens burn wood for that classic, smoky taste.
7. Pizza delivery started out in the 1960's as a way to gain extra customers so that the restaurant could become successful enough without delivering. Of course, delivering became so popular that now all prominent pizza chains use it to market their products to customers. Pizza establishments used to boast deliveries within certain time frames, or it would be free of charge to the customer. But so many car accidents and lawsuits came as a result of rushed deliverers that the practice was disbanded.
8. Pizza delivery is listed as fifth on the top ten most dangerous jobs. Not only must drivers navigate difficult weather conditions, but they are likely to be mugged or assaulted, especially if they are believed to be carrying cash. For this reason, it is customary in Canada to tip pizza delivery persons.
9. Pizza was not very popular American fare during the first half of the 20th century. Italian immigrants opened shops in cities like New York and Chicago, but the main customers were mostly other Italians pining for a taste of home. American soldiers are thought to be the ones who opened up the pizza business, as they discovered pizza while fighting in Italy during WWII. Suddenly, veterans returning home were looking for the delicious dish they had encountered while overseas, and the pizza industry exploded.