Is Pizza Really from Italy?

April 18, 2019

Just because something is associated with a certain country doesn’t mean it came from that country…or at least not originally or entirely.

Recently we got to talking about stuff we associate with certain countries — like how pizza is an Italian food, for example. Somebody asked, “But is it really from Italy?” We got ourselves involved in a research wormhole and discovered a phenomenon sociologists call “the Pizza Effect.” Basically it means that a food, style of art, or other popular part of a culture only became part of that culture after it was introduced to it later…and then became widely assumed to be authentic.


The concept gets its name from one of the most popular foods in the world. Pizza does originate in Italy, specifically in the Naples region. But in its traditional style, it’s an inexpensive, rustic dish, comprised mainly of a thin crust, tomato sauce, and a few slices of authentic mozzarella. Pizza as we know it in the U.S. today — thick crust, and covered edge-to-edge with sauce and shredded mozzarella cheese, and topped with pepperoni and other meats — came from Italian immigrants. That style was then, ironically, introduced back to Italy, where it’s a bestseller.


Salsa music is an explosive, catchy, and highly danceable form of Latin jazz music. Among its most famous proprietors, past and present: Ruben Blades, Tito Puente, and Marc Anthony. It’s a style heavily associated with the primarily Spanish-speaking U.S. territory of Puerto Rico, and it’s a very popular genre there. However, that success came after it was spread by Puerto Rican emigrants who started salsa bands in 1930s New York City.


India has one of the most prolific and sophisticated film cultures in the world, and writer/director Satyajit Ray is looked upon as a pioneer and genius of Indian movies. That’s in large part to three films he made in the 1950s: Pather Panchali, Aparajito, and The World of Apu, collectively referred to as “The Apu Trilogy.” Landmarks of movies in Ray’s native nation today, Indian filmgoers initially ignored them.


Yoga, the seemingly ancient hybrid of spirituality and exercise, was first popularized in the West in the 1960s by Indian-born guru and spiritual guide Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Only after its success in Europe and the U.S. did yoga enjoy wide practice in India.


The 2015 James Bond film Spectre begins as 007 films usually do, with a big action sequence. In this film, Bond is on the hunt for a bad guy at a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. While Day of the Dead, or Dia de Los Muertos, is a famous and traditional celebration in Mexico, there was no parade in the country’s capital until after the release of Spectre.