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article imageThe remarkable chemistry of pizza (video)

By Tim Sandle     Jan 23, 2015 in Food
Naples - Everyone enjoys pizza, right? As you tuck in to a slice, have you ever wondered what is happening in order make the slice so tasty? A new video explores the chemistry behind the cheese, tomato and dough.
Whether it's a plain cheese, a deep-dish stacked with meats or a thin-crust veggie delight, there's just something about pizza that makes it delicious. To create the tasty concoction there is plenty of chemistry going on. This ranges from making and kneading the dough to whipping up the tomato sauce to make the first topping. Then there are the various toppings designed to suit different tastes, from carnivores to vegetarians. Then, it should really go without saying, is the cheese.
Interestingly, there is a very specific chemical reaction on-going on every single slice, no matter what toppings are chosen.
The video has been prepared by the American Chemical Society, as part of its on-going educational series.
The modern pizza was apparently invented in Naples, Italy (according to American Heritage Magazine.) Prior to this momentous day, precursor of pizza was probably the focaccia. This is a flat bread known to the Romans as "panis focacius," to which toppings were then added.
The word "pizza" was first documented in 997 AD in Gaeta, Italy. The word is thought to be from an Old Italian word meaning "a point," which in turn became the Italian word "pizzicare," which means "to pinch" or "pluck." At the time, pizza was a dish for the very poor using inexpensive food to create a dish that could be eaten very quickly.
Another interesting point is whether the Italians invented pizza? (putting aside that Italy didn’t exist in a recognizable form in 997 AD). It is known that the Egyptians made a flatbread, the Indians baked naan in hot Tandoori ovens. However, these interesting breads did not carry toppings. The Persians had a flatbread covered topped with cheese and dates. However, was this something similar to pizza?
The ancient Greeks had a flat bread called plakountos, on which they placed various toppings, and Naples was founded (as Neopolis) by the Greeks. So, did the Greeks invent pizza? Does anyone really know and is it better just to get on and eat it?
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