Why Some People Call Pizza A Pie

neapolitan homemade pizza
neapolitan homemade pizza - smspsy/Shutterstock

The first pizza can be traced back to the early 1800s in Naples, yet the pizzas made then were not the monsters we know today. Those portable pizzas of yesteryear could easily be taken away by hand and eaten on the go. The food was ideal for those who had places to be and work to finish. Though pizzas may have initially found favor among the working class, the rest of society discovered that this bready, cheesy, saucy dish was just the kind of thing that was meant to be devoured. Understandably, when Italians came to the United States, they brought their pizza recipes with them -- except they didn't have the exact words to describe the food yet.

Since these pizzas were round and looked like pies, "tomato pie" became the apt descriptor. The first American pizzeria initially sold these tomato pies in the back of a New York City grocery store in 1905, but the dish was considered an immigrant recipe and didn't get much reach beyond this circle. It took returning soldiers from Italy during World War II to crave pizzas once back in the United States, and both the food and its moniker became mainstream.

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Mastering Pizza Vernacular

people reaching for pizza
people reaching for pizza - Leopatrizi/Getty Images

To cement pizza in the heart of America, Dean Martin's 1953 hit "That's Amore" pays homage by referencing the dish. "When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's amore," he crooned. Even before his song hit the radio, a journalist from the New York Tribune observed in 1903 that "the Italian has invented a kind of pie." The phrase stuck, and in many parts of America, "grabbing a pie" remains the preferred word choice for a pizza order.

Though you may hear the term used more frequently on the East Coast and in Italian-American communities, don't be surprised to hear it elsewhere in pizza parlors across the United States. Just keep in mind that while a pie often refers to a pizza in its entirety, a single piece is always a slice. Depending on where you are and how hungry you are, order accordingly with the appropriate vocabulary. A worker in a European pizza shop and many places across the pond may give you curious glances if you come in asking for pie.

Read the original article on Tasting Table