Chicago or New York? If you’re wondering if I mean Cubs vs. Mets, or the Magnificent Mile vs. 5th Avenue, you couldn’t be further off. The foodies out there know I’m asking how you like your pizza.
New Yorkers are known for flat pizza pies cut into big triangular slices and folded in half before eating, Saturday Night Fever Style. Most people think deep-dish when they hear about Chicago pizza. In fact, that style of pizza was invented by Ike Sewell in a Chicago restaurant called Pizzeria Uno (now Called Uno Chicago Grill) in 1943. Lines of visitors to the sub-street level restaurant often stream out the door in all kinds of weather. And, although I’ve always been an Uno’s devotee, Chicagoans like thin crust pizza, too. They tend to slice it into squares, though, maybe just to differentiate themselves from Big Apple residents.
Pizza lovers top their pies with all kinds of delicious ingredients from sausage and pepperoni to veggies and even anchovies. But, the second week of January is designated as National Cheese Pizza Week, and even plain old unadorned pizza can be delicious when the cheese gets gooey and the sauce wants to run down your chin.
Not surprisingly this bread-based favorite originated in Italy. It is believed to have been around in one form or another since Neolithic times, but the current version with tomato sauce was probably first sold by street vendors in Naples, Italy circa 1830. Luckily for us, Italian immigrants brought it to the United States in the late 19th century, mainly to cities with large Italian populations like New York, Chicago, Philadelphia, and Boston. The dish didn’t really become popular outside of the Italian-American population until the 1940’s, though.
Nowadays it comes in all kinds of flavors (Hawaiian with pineapple and ham, Greek white pizza with feta cheese—even gluten free pizza can be made with gluten free frozen crusts and goat cheese,) and is available in many different kinds of restaurants. Most grocery stores have large sections of their freezer cases devoted to frozen pizza, and also carry a variety of pre-made pizza crusts.
Aside from its unbeatable taste, my favorite thing about pizza is how easy it is. Easy to order, easy to eat, easy to make. It’s so easy a recipe for it appears in both Easy Weekly Meals for College Students and Easy Weekly Meals for Moms on the Go. Check it out when you get a chance and let me know how you like it.
Happy National Cheese Pizza Week! Take it easy, and eat your favorite cheese pizza one or more days this week.