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Pizza: A Global History (Reaktion Books - Edible) Hardcover – October 15, 2008

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Product Details

  • Series: Reaktion Books - Edible
  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Reaktion Books; 1 edition (October 15, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1861893914
  • ISBN-13: 978-1861893918
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #828,678 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

People dining in the finest restaurants on truffle-and-lobster pizza may be surprised to learn that pizza originated as a food for the very poor in Naples as early as the late eighteenth century. It took World War II to make pizza an international dish, soldiers returning from Italy with fond memories of tomato-and-cheese-crowned flatbreads. These novel “pies” began appearing in America’s metropolises, especially in neighborhoods where there were concentrations of Italian immigrants. In American hands, Naples’ bread-based pizza became thinner (New York) and thicker (Chicago). Eventually, pizza lost its moorings almost entirely as it acquired such toppings as pineapple, barbecued chicken, and jalapeños. Within a few decades, pizza conquered even the conservative tastes of school-lunch programs and became the basis for many an entrepreneur’s fortune, thanks to the innovation of home delivery. Helstosky offers practical recipes for making all styles of pizza. --Mark Knoblauch


"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!"
(Ken Hom, chef and author 2008-07-14)

"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."
(Robert Sietsema, restaurant critic for the Village Voice)

"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."

"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 The Chronicle Review)

"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 Gastronomica)

"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 Denver Post)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A. Olivier on April 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this as a gift for my brother and his wife, they are food crazy. Their hobby is cooking, therefore I was looking for a cook book with a difference. This was a perfect gift, not only did it have some great recipes, it also contained some fascinating history of pizzas.

I would highly recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By lindapanzo on October 31, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
This is a fascinating look at the history of pizza from its Italian origins to its "Americanization" to current worldwide trends in pizza. The book is slim, but very informative, and it also includes recipes.

It's part of The Edible Series. Other already-released titles include "Hamburger" and "Pancake." Forthcoming titles include Beer, Hot Dog, Chocolate, Cake, and Pie, just to name a few.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes to read about food or who likes to read books on a quirky topic. A reader is treated to a lot of interesting information in a compact format.
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By Jesse H on March 19, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Bought as a gift, great book.
Wonderful content, pictures, and recipes.
I love the writing style of these series and am considering buying other titles.
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6 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Michael Lewyn VINE VOICE on February 7, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This tiny book is a short history of pizza. Perhaps the most interesting part was the first 30 pages or so, which explains the history of pizza. Pizza existed in the 1700s (if not earlier) in Naples, where it was a street food for the poor: basically just flatbread with some sort of topping. The cheapest form of pizza had just garlic, salt and lard- more expensive versions had cheese, basil, fish and/or tomato. But until after WW II, pizza was not popular outside Naples (let alone outside Italy). But after WW II, immigrants from southern Italy spread both to northern Italy and the northern United States- selling pizza in both places. And from there, pizza spread to the rest of the world.

What makes pizza so popular worldwide? Cheapness and adaptability. Because it is always basically a flatbread with toppings, it is an easily comprehensible "comfort food" - yet the infinite variety of possible toppings mean that the basic recipe can be adapted to fit local tastes or altered to be a little different every day.
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