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The Reason Why Pizza Is Not Junk Food

Alessio enjoys traveling and discovering new cultures and food traditions.

Raise your hand if you have never ordered a pizza in your life or eaten it at a restaurant with your family or friends. Pizza is an iconic dish that almost everyone knows. People love its taste and the various toppings you can add to it. There is only a problem with pizza: it is considered junk food. Is it true or not? We should start with a premise: pizza is not junk food. Pizza is not at the same level as super oily chips or burgers topped with several layers of cheese, bacon, and mayonnaise. There's more to say before calling pizza "junk food," and this article will help us understand why it is wrong to believe this dish is something to avoid at all costs in a diet, providing that we have a clear idea of what we mean by pizza.

The Debated Origin of Pizza

Today it is easy to call “pizza,” any pie topped with something. In the USA, some people believe pizza was invented in New York. Pizza, the original dish in absolute to be called by this name, is an Italian dish. Yet, American pizza has nothing to do with pizzas you can eat in the various famous chains of pizzerias in the USA and other parts of the world. The only question is: how much is it different?

A traditional pizza you can eat in Italy: even by looking at it in a picture, you can notice this is not exactly the kind of pizza you would eat in a standard chain of pizzerias in the USA or other countries.

A traditional pizza you can eat in Italy: even by looking at it in a picture, you can notice this is not exactly the kind of pizza you would eat in a standard chain of pizzerias in the USA or other countries.

Two Completely Different Dishes: American vs Italian Pizza

The original pizza, the one you can eat almost everywhere in Italy, is composed of a base of wheat-based dough (often wood-oven baked), tomato, and mozzarella cheese (the same mozzarella cheese in Italy is something completely different than most dried cheeses you would find in various chains of supermarkets in the USA). That is the simplest version of pizza we know and is called Margherita. Then we have several variants: white pizzas (without tomato) and those topped with several ingredients: vegetables, meat, and so on.

A Caprese salad, which is a popular Italian dish composed of tomatoes and slices of mozzarella. Mozzarella in Italy is shaped like a balloon; it retains liquid and tastes very fresh.

A Caprese salad, which is a popular Italian dish composed of tomatoes and slices of mozzarella. Mozzarella in Italy is shaped like a balloon; it retains liquid and tastes very fresh.

Is American or Italian Pizza Better?

Most people in Italy would say pizza is better in their country in the USA: this is also due to a certain pride many Italians have when they talk about food. I tend to be objective, and I would answer that there are no 'good' or 'bad' pizzas. We can only say that Italian pizza is what we could consider the original one, but after having pointed out this, both versions of pizza are tasty for people who enjoy them.

A small pepperoni pizza served in California, USA

A small pepperoni pizza served in California, USA

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The richest pizzas are caloric and not exactly the best when on a diet, but these are still variants of a dish that is, at the beginning, a very light and simple one. To better give you an idea, in the USA, the most simple pizza features pepperoni, a kind of salami, which is more caloric than the Italian Margherita, just for this reason. Pizzas in the USA generally tend to also be greasy and cheesy compared to the Italian ones. They are a different dish if compared to Italian pizzas because, even if they are still made of a base of dough topped with several ingredients, what completely changes the recipe is how these are balanced and their composition. Mozzarella in the USA is already completely different than the mozzarella cheese you can taste in Italy; if it is also added in massive quantities compared to those of Italian pizzas, we have already achieved to make a completely different dish from what pizza originally is. If this pizza cannot be imagined simply with tomato and mozzarella cheese, we are again talking about something different, because in Italy, this is what we could traditionally consider the original pizza.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2020 Alessio Ganci

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