As I was waiting for my order in a restaurant in New York, I was suddenly baffled when my number got called saying that my “pie” was ready.
I could have sworn I ordered a pizza and heard the right number. So I approached the counter and showed my number, lo and behold I got the pizza I ordered.
You might have been in the same situation and now we are both wondering why they called it pie instead of calling it a pizza.
There are a lot of amazing pizza places in New York where you get some delicious NY style pizza but what do call them pizza or pie.
There are a lot of confusing statements about this argument on why pizza is called pie by some people. So I will share with you what I found to clarify that argument.
Is my pizza a pie? Or is my apple pie a pizza? Which is which?
Pizza was first called a pie when Italian immigrants first arrived in US in the 1800’s. Pizza then got popular when there was a culture share between Italian and Americans. This new dish got famous quickly, especially in New York, and everyone ended up calling it a pie since the way it was made resembled a pie.
What Is A Pie?
A pie is “a baked dish of fruit, or meat and vegetables, typically with a top and base of pastry” according to Oxford English Dictionaries.
That means that a pie, technically, is something with a base and top made out of pastry but Merriam-Webster says that a pie is a “meat dish baked with biscuit or pastry crust”.
Since Merriam-Webster did not clearly define that a pie needs to have a pastry top, it allowed other people to classify other recipes as a pie.
Pies are usually 8 inches across and 2 inches thick and are only considered “pies” if they are baked. The pastry for the base is also made with flour, water, salt, and butter.
There are also 4 types of pie namely, cream, fruit, custard, and savory. Savory is something that is pretty common with pizzas and meat pies, which might have confused others.
What Is A Pizza?
A pizza is “a dish of Italian origin consisting of a flat, round base of dough baked with a topping of tomato sauce and cheese, typically with added meat or vegetables” according to Oxford.
The dough used for the crust of pizza does not use butter, instead, it is made with yeast. Pizza is usually topped with meat and vegetable ingredients.
The more common toppings for pizza are pepperoni, mushrooms, sausages, pineapples, chicken, bacon, and olives.
One distinct feature of pizza is its versatility. Almost all countries have pizzas and they have different versions with different toppings that are likely familiar to the locals’ palates.
History Of Pizza
The pizza that we know of today came from Naples, Italy in the 18th century but the practice of eating flatbread with toppings on it has been around longer with the Romans and Greeks.
Naples is the home country of the pizza that we are used to and pizza was not treated the same way as we do now.
Pizza was actually invented or made for seafarers and was considered a peasant’s food. Bakers would cook flatbreads to test the temperature of the oven and then sell the flatbreads.
The flatbreads were popular with workers nearby who would buy and add the seasonings themselves. It was not long until Queen Margherita was introduced to it and had a pizza named after her.
Today, there are different types of pizza in Italy.
Then Comes America…
Right before the end of the 18th century, a baker named Gennaro Lombardi migrated to the U.S. and ended up in New York.
He started serving the tomato pies in his grocery store. A few years later in 1905, he started the first-ever pizzeria in America.
After the second world war, veterans returning home from Europe craved this pie that they have eaten during the war and it started the huge boom in the pizza industry.
There are now many versions of the pizza today and it is now a very common meal that everybody loves for its delicious flavors, texture, and convenience.
Where Did Pizza Come From?
The pizza recipe came from Naples, Italy, but the name “Pizza” is believed to have come from many origins, like the Greek word “pitta” which means pie.
There is also another Greek word called “pitsa” which means “fermented pastry” which relates to the dough used in making the pizza that we know today.
Italians picked up on the fermented pastry term which might have evolved into the word, pizza. The first record of the word pizza goes back to a Latin text in 997 AD.
Up to this day, historians have no clear agreement about where the word “pizza” originated.
Does Pizza Mean Pie In Italian?
No, Pizza is not the literal translation of pie in Italian. The actual translation of pie in Italian is “torta” or “la torta”.
Yes, the word pizza is borrowed from Italian, but the origin of the actual word is not even confirmed to be Italian, so it is not the translation of pie.
Some say that the term “pizza pie” is redundant and you might get confused about it but one thing is clear, pizza is not the translation of pie in Italian.
I do understand, however, some people on the internet saying that it is the translation of pie but with further research, it is quite clear that the word pizza is about the flatbread recipe and not pie.
Is Pizza A Pie?
Pizza is NOT a pie. While it is confusing, the main reason pizza is called pie is that pie was the term used by Americans when pizza first came to the country.
While they do have similarities like the round crust and the triangular slices, pizza is not a pie nor is pie a pizza.
If you are in the U.S., particularly in New York, you might get away with ordering a pie and still get a pizza, but anywhere else in the world, you will not get the flatbread pizza you want.
Pizza Vs Pie
I understand that you might still be confused with these two terms and why other people call pizza a pie.
So here is a simpler comparison between the two to see their similarities and differences.
Similarities Between Pizza And Pie
- Pizza and pie both have crusts that are made mainly from flour.
- They have circular shapes.
- Pizza and pie are cut into slices with triangular shapes.
- Both have other ingredients such as fruit, meat, or vegetables.
- Both pizza and pie are baked to create a crispy crust and evenly cooked ingredients.
Differences Between Pizza And Pie
- The crust used on the pie is made with pastry while pizza has a crust made out of fermented dough.
- A pie has a top and bottom crust while pizza only has a bottom crust.
- The toppings on a pizza are cooked and are exposed to flames while the stuffings in a pie are protected by the top crust.
- The pizza crust is thinner (usually an inch thick) and fluffier than the crust of a pie(usually 2 inches thick).
- Pies are cooked in a deep dish while pizzas are cooked on a flat surface like a pizza stone or pizza steel (except for variations like the Chicago deep-dish pizza).
- Pies are usually made as desserts with sweet stuffings like apple and cream, although there is the occasional meat pie.
- Pizzas are made as a meal and usually have a salty and savory overall taste rather than the sweet flavor of most pies.
- Pizzas are cooked at a very high temperature (1000 degrees Fahrenheit) while pies are cooked at a much lower temperature (usually 350-450 degrees Fahrenheit).
Is Pizza A Pie, Cake, Or Sandwich?
A pizza is neither a pie nor is it a cake. Pies and cakes are both made from pastry and pizzas are made from bread dough.
Since pizza is made from bread dough, some people consider it a sandwich because, in technical terms, a sandwich must include a bread base.
Pizza does have a bread base so it is not wrong to call it an open-faced sandwich. It’s just that pizza has a much crispier and airy crust compared to bread.
Who Calls Pizza A Pie?
Americans, particularly New Yorkers, call pizza a pie. That is due to the confusion during the earlier years of pizza in the United States.
When it was first documented, Lombardi’s pizzas were dubbed as Italian “pies” that are called “pomidore pizza” by the New York Tribune in 1903.
If you go to other countries, you will notice that almost no one calls pizzas as pies, and it is the Americans -particularly New Yorkers that called and is still calling pizza a pie.
Do New Yorkers Say Pie For Pizza?
To this day, New Yorkers still say pie for pizza for two major reasons.
One, because “pie” was the definition they gave to pizza when it first arrived in New York. The New York Tribune said it is an Italian pie called commodore or tomato pizza.
The second reason is that it is easier to call the pizza a “pie” if you are referring to the whole pizza instead of just a “slice of pizza” for ordering.
That comes in handy since New York-style pizza is sold mostly by the slice so for New Yorkers, saying pie means that you want the whole pizza and not just a slice.
Is Deep-dish Pizza A Pie?
The infamous Chicago deep-dish pizza is still a pizza despite having a deeper crust that covers or stuffs the toppings like a pie.
Deep-dish pizzas still use bread dough for the crust instead of pastry so it is not a pie. It does, however, resemble a casserole dish more than a Neapolitan or New York-style pizza.
Chicago deep-dish is still a pizza and not a pie, although some consider it a pie because they believe pizza is about “less is more”.
So, Can You Call Pizza A Pie?
This depends on where you are. If you are in New York, you can say pie and you will be served with a whole pizza.
Go to other countries and you might confuse the people thereby calling pizza a pie.
If you hear someone call pizza a pie, chances are they are from the United States or New York.
You can call pizza a pie as long as you are in the right place or else you will not be getting that delicious pizza that you want and get served instead with an equally delicious, thick, sweet pie.
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