| 03.18.2018

Pondering pizza — Why it’s important to define our cuisine terms


Pizza: a cultural icon and beloved food. Just as much as we have progressed in technology over the years, pizza has progressed, too.

Take dessert pizzas — a combination of savory dough with the sweetness of icing, chocolate, fruit and much more. Who would even think to replace the meaty, cheesy flavor of pizza with sweetness? A genius, obviously.

Beside dessert pizza, we have been blessed with deep dish, thin crust, stuffed crust and the precious calzone.

Calzones? That’s right, the dough covered pizza knock-off that many have heard of, but few actually try. That is where I begin today’s discussion. Should calzones be considered pizza?

This is why it is always important to define terms.

According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, pizza is “a dish made typically of flattened bread dough spread with a savory mixture usually including tomatoes and cheese and often other toppings and baked.” By this definition, many things, not just calzones, would not qualify as pizza. Deep dish would be too thick while dessert pizza is thrown out entirely. It does, however, provide us with a good base to build upon. If it is accepted that dessert pizza is just that, then topping uniformity does not dictate pizza-ness.

Let’s go deeper.

Chicago style deep dish pizza consists of a layer of dough stuffed with meats and cheese topped with another layer of dough and tomato sauce. Chicago style is a classic example of pizza boundaries being pushed. It’s essentially two pizzas layered on top of one another. Take away the tomato sauce on top and we have a calzone.

This wild ride isn’t done yet. We must go deeper, still.

Stromboli. If you thought calzones were rare, try getting Stromboli. Stromboli is essentially a pizza roll. While it resembles a calzone and therefore would be called pizza, I argue that it is, in fact, a turnover. Yes, the delicious dessert is disguised as a breakfast pastry.

Like the dessert pizza, a Stromboli breaks the conventional ingredient list but maintains the classic turnover form. One might say, “Stromboli is just a longer calzone.” While convincing on the surface, it signals ignorance about Stromboli structure. Stromboli can be made with either Italian bread dough or pizza dough. Right off the bat, we have a difference – calzones and pizza must use pizza dough. Not only that, turnovers and Stromboli both have the iconic slits on the top layer of dough. However, that isn’t even the most damning idea.

An extreme example would be to take two slices of pizza and put one on top of another with the toppings touching. Is this now a sandwich or is it still a pizza? To even contemplate that is madness. You end up with more questions than when you started.

It is the intent of this article to showcase the variance of not only pizza, but other categories. I’m looking at you, sandwiches.

The language we use daily leaves much room for debate and thus miscommunication.

It is important to think about your choice of words and be open to many different interpretations.

Unless someone says Stromboli is pizza, they’re just wrong.

Griffen Winget can be reached at arg-opinion@uidaho.edu

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