From frozen food aisles to artisanal brick ovens, we can not seem to get enough. The famous flatbread pie has even made it all the way from its home in Italy to the exotic Hawaii, which lent its increasingly popular combination of sweet pineapple and salty ham.
What option consistently makes the top of the listing in america? That would have to be the ever-popular pepperoni. These savory bites are practically the default topping on an American slit. However, they didn’t take their existing place of dominance until after World War II, and they weren’t even heard of as an alternative when pizza first made its debut in the United States in the late 18th century.
Because of its title and prominent association with the Italian based meals, many assume that pepperoni originated there, also. But in actuality, it’s a wholly American creation. First mentioned in print in 1919, this variation on the Italian types of salami has a distinct fine-grained texture and spicy, slightly smoky flavor. Its vibrant red color comes in the paprika and cayenne usually within the recipe.
The title for the cured meat is actually thought to be a corruption of the Italian word for bell peppers,”peperoni,” which sounds quite similar but results in a very different plate. Imagine the surprise of English speakers who try to purchase a slice and get a layer of sliced peppers instead of the pepperonis they were anticipating. Italians do shirt some pizza with unique types of salami, but there’s nothing that quite matches the specific style of our pepperoni.
The processing of this kind of meat was modified from the original rustic design to accommodate mass production, including use of nitrates and artificial casings. This has caused some connoisseurs of Italian meats to look down on it as a kind of mongrel salami, but that has not stopped the U.S. from choosing it on approximately 40 percent of our pizza orders.
Large, well-known brands like Hormel sell enormous amounts of the product each year, but there is also a growing movement of butchers and curers seeking to produce their very own recipes with less preservatives and locally sourced ingredients. Salami and other sausage types like the spicier soppressata are making their way to pizzerias throughout the country, but American chefs are finding new ways to integrate pepperoni into recipes beyond the traditional topping or sandwich meat.