Is it a pizza or isn't it?

My Pizza by Jim Lahey

We know it's August and in much of the world there's not a lot of heavy mental lifting going on. so we wanted to nudge the brain cells a little with this crucial question, posed by the kitchn, "When Is a Pizza Not a Pizza?" Does it have to have a traditional crust? A traditional crust with sauce? A traditional crust with tomato sauce? A traditional crust with tomato sauce and cheese?

Actually this does lead into a larger discussion of food nomenclature and how certain food terms have been expanded well beyond their origins - "pesto" and "gazpacho" immediately leap to mind. Overall, we'd come down on the side of liberality in this one - since the fun of cooking is creative and a little humor and whimsiness makes it even more fun - what's the harm in adapting terms, especially for home cooks? The one qualification may be when used in menus - if a term misleads the eater into ordering something they don't want, then probably the use is inappropriate.

As far as "pizza" goes - we'd probably  use the term for traditional crust, any type of sauce, plus cheese as a minimum requirement - but we'd certainly eat any type of flat bread with any savory topping gladly, no matter what it's called. And the author of all these pizza cookbooks in our library would no doubt agree.

Photo of cover of Jim Lahey's My Pizza



  • Kelly Bone  on  8/13/2013 at 1:22 PM

    To each their own, everyone’s comment on the post is correct. From a technical standpoint, it doesn’t **have to have** cheese (marinara pie) or sauce (bianca pie) to be a called a pizza. The only time I get frustrated is when “pizza” is used as an adjective. Like Mexican Pizza (it’s a tostada!) or Pizza Burger (it’s a burger!)

  • LDGourmet  on  8/13/2013 at 4:25 PM

    I think it's interesting where various people draw lines. Hummus is anything mashed to one, while must be strictly interpreted to another. Veggies is somehow a dis according to hard-liners whereas I'm happy if anyone's just talking about, eating, cooking them. The one that gets me though is the description of okonomiyaki as "Japanese Pizza" simply because it's round? I never have understood that. It is a sort of omelet since it is egg based. Why not call it that?

  • FuzzyChef  on  8/14/2013 at 1:35 AM

    Hey, I did a review of this book: As for the quinessential quality of pizza-ness, I can't define it for you. As Justice Potter Stewart said, "I know it when I see it."

  • sir_ken_g  on  8/14/2013 at 9:10 AM

    You should see what the French do to pizza:

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