The Italianissimo pizza—pronounced /ˈpiʦ:a/—is not always spelled or called pizza around the world:
- In Bosnia, Belarusian, Macedonia, Serbia
it's spelled pica but pronounced /pîtsa/
- In Estonian; pitsa
- The Greeks call it πίτσα (pítsa)
- In Haitian it's pitza
- In Thai it's พิซซ่า (Phiss̀ā)
- In Vietnamese it's bánh pizza
For everyone else it's just plain pizza, except...
in the USA, where some Americans call it pizza pie. I don't think anywhere else in the world (except in Vietnam and China) is the Neapolitan dish a compound word.
Different theories abound on the net: I have read claims that it's called pie because it is cut in triangles, that its round shape is reminiscent of a pie chart, some who sustain that the first pizzas baked in the US were simply called tomato pies, and others who say pizza is Italian for “pie”; however, that last claim is untrue. In Italy pies/cakes/tarts and pizzas are not interchangeable. Un dolce (“a sweet”) is the name for any cake or fruit filled tart whereas the term, torta, covers both cakes and any savoury or sweet-filling open pie. For example, an “open vegetable pie” is torta di verdure, and a “birthday cake” is torta di compleanno. When pizza dough is baked without any topping (but for a generous drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt crystals), it is called focaccia while in some parts of Italy the term pizza bianca (“white pizza”) is used.
I believe the English term pie refers especially to the crust, and as we all know, pies have a filling be it sweet or savoury. The classic open “pie” is topped with tomato and mozzarella cheese, but in the US the choice of toppings is limitless.
Did you know that February 9th is National Pizza Pie Day in the US? Unfortunately, I was unable to discover how old this epicurean feast is and where it originated, but it does tell me that the term pizza pie is alive and well today. Back in 1953 Dean Martin crooned
When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie
- But when did the words pizza pie first appear in print?
- And where did it originate?
- What is its origin?