Pizza is one the most-eaten foods in the United States, beloved by kids and adults alike. A food similar to what we recognize as pizza today can be traced back to Naples, Italy, where cooks first put tomatoes on flat herb bread called focaccia. The first pizzeria in the United States opened in the early 1900s in New York City, but the food didn't become popular among Americans until after World War II. Now you can find pizzas in restaurants and in the aisles of your local grocery store, but making your own can be more fun -- and more delicious.
It's up to you whether to make a pizza crust or buy it elsewhere. Pre-made crusts -- in both raw and pre-cooked forms -- are available in grocery stores and some bakeries. If you want to start from scratch, you'll need flour, yeast, water, salt and olive oil. Bread and all-purpose flours are commonly used for pizza crust; using all-purpose flour can result in a more chewy texture. Most recipes require instant dry yeast.
Debates can erupt among cooks when it comes to pizza sauce. The truth is that there is no one magic method of making pizza sauce; it can be made to suit your tastes. The basics typically include a can of crushed tomatoes, fresh garlic, salt, pepper and perhaps a little olive oil. Seasonings vary, but common ones include oregano and basil. Pizza sauces are often pre-cooked minimally, if at all, prior to topping the crust.
If you're going after American pizzeria-style pizza, choose cheeses that not only can handle a lot of heat but also have a pleasing texture when melted. The classic choice is mozzarella. Add some variety to your pizza by using Parmesan, Romano, fontina and even provolone.
What, if anything, you put on top of the pizza gives you an opportunity to get creative. The majority of Americans go for meat toppings, so pepperoni, Italian sausage, bacon, ham and beef are typical choices. Vegetables such as peppers, onions, mushrooms and olives are also delicious. Chicken, spinach and even fruits such as pineapple can go on pizza. Play around with the ingredients to find combinations you like. You may also want to add additional seasonings as the final addition to your pizza, including herbs or red pepper flakes.
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