Pizza: A Global History

Pizza: A Global History

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by Carol Helstosky
     
 

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You can pick Chicago deep dish, Sicilian, or New York-style; pan crust or thin crust; anchovies or pepperoni. There are countless ways to create the dish called pizza, as well as a never-ending debate on the best way of cooking it. Now Carol Helstosky documents the fascinating history and cultural life of this chameleon-like food in Pizza.

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Overview

You can pick Chicago deep dish, Sicilian, or New York-style; pan crust or thin crust; anchovies or pepperoni. There are countless ways to create the dish called pizza, as well as a never-ending debate on the best way of cooking it. Now Carol Helstosky documents the fascinating history and cultural life of this chameleon-like food in Pizza.

Originally a food for the poor in eighteenth-century Naples, the pizza is a source of national and regional pride as well as cultural identity in Italy, Helstosky reveals. In the twentieth century, the pizza followed Italian immigrants to America, where it became the nation’s most popular dish and fueled the rise of successful fast-food corporations such as Pizza Hut and Domino’s. Along the way, Helstosky explains, pizza has been adapted to local cuisines and has become a metaphor for cultural exchange. Pizza also features several recipes and a wealth of illustrations, including a photo of the world’s largest and most expensive pizza—sprinkled with edible 24-karat gold shavings and costing over $4000.  
 
Whether you love sausage and onions on your pizza or unadorned cheese, Pizza has enough offerings to satiate even the pickiest of readers.
 

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Editorial Reviews

Atlantic

"A timely retort to gourmandism run amok, the first three titles in this chapbook series aim . . . to illuminate and elevate taken-for-granted staples via concise, discrete histories."

The Chronicle Review
It is indeed difficult to overestimate pizza's importance to America or America's importance to pizza, even if today's chain pizzas would make a Neapolitan fume. . . . However, while Pizza Hut and other chains have brought a standardized pie to the world, it was eventually by unstandardizing, Helstosky shows, that chain pizza has flourished globally, taking on the foodways of different countries.

— Nina C. Ayoub

Gastronomica
Pizza is structured a lucid thesis: the food originated as a poor person's meal but has been culturally reified. Helstosky makes an interesting point regarding the authenticity of a food, pointing out that those who bemoan the commercialization of the pizza ignore its humble origins. This is not say that she promotes or praises Domino's, but she points out the futility of trying to prevent a traditional food from changing. . . . Ultimately, Pizza offers a succinct overview of food history, with impressive analytical heft for a book of its size.

— Margot Kaminski

Denver Post
Whether they're pizza fanatics or pizza deniers, readers are quite likely to find Helstosky's book fascinating. Her research is impressive, she writes clearly, the photographs are captivating, and the approach to delineating world history through a specific food actually works.

— Steve Weinberg

Ken Hom

"The Edible series contains some of the most delicious nuggets of food and drink history ever. Every volume is such a fascinating and succinct read that I had to devour each in just a single sitting. . . . food writing at its best!"

Robert Sietsema

"Books in Reaktion's Edible series are paragons of their type; concise and flavorful, jammed with interesting facts, period photos and just a handful of recipes, in case you want to 'do it yourself.' I recommend these books to foodies and academics alike."

The Chronicle Review - Nina C. Ayoub

"It is indeed difficult to overestimate pizza's importance to America or America's importance to pizza, even if today's chain pizzas would make a Neapolitan fume. . . . However, while Pizza Hut and other chains have brought a standardized pie to the world, it was eventually by unstandardizing, Helstosky shows, that chain pizza has flourished globally, taking on the foodways of different countries."
Gastronomica - Margot Kaminski

"Pizza is structured a lucid thesis: the food originated as a poor person's meal but has been culturally reified. Helstosky makes an interesting point regarding the authenticity of a food, pointing out that those who bemoan the commercialization of the pizza ignore its humble origins. This is not say that she promotes or praises Domino's, but she points out the futility of trying to prevent a traditional food from changing. . . . Ultimately, Pizza offers a succinct overview of food history, with impressive analytical heft for a book of its size."
Denver Post - Steve Weinberg

"Whether they're pizza fanatics or pizza deniers, readers are quite likely to find Helstosky's book fascinating. Her research is impressive, she writes clearly, the photographs are captivating, and the approach to delineating world history through a specific food actually works."

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781861893918
Publisher:
Reaktion Books, Limited
Publication date:
10/15/2008
Series:
Reaktion Books - Edible Series
Pages:
144
Sales rank:
1,248,399
Product dimensions:
5.00(w) x 7.80(h) x 0.70(d)

Meet the Author

Carol Helstosky is associate professor of history at the University of Denver. She is also the author of Garlic and Oil: Politics of Food in Italy and Food Culture in the Mediterranean.
 

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Pizza: A Global History 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Lake~Annabeth