A round pizza topped with kimchi, curry, pineapple, and chorizo slices, reflecting global culinary influences.

Global Pizza Traditions: A Look at Unique Pizza Styles Around the World

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Global pizza traditions showcase diverse and creative ways different cultures enjoy this beloved dish. Japan’s Okonomiyaki pizza, Sweden’s Banana Curry pizza, and Brazil’s Pizza de Calabresa with spicy sausage are examples of unique cultural fusions and toppings.

What are some unique pizza-eating traditions and styles found in different parts of the world?

In Italy, the birthplace of pizza, there’s a strong tradition of eating pizza Napoletana with a knife and fork. This style of pizza, with its soft, thin center and puffy, charred edges, is considered a culinary art form. Italians also emphasize the importance of fresh, high-quality ingredients like San Marzano tomatoes and mozzarella di bufala. In contrast, in the United States, particularly in cities like New York and Chicago, pizza is often eaten with hands. New York is famous for its thin crust, which is folded in half to eat on the go, while Chicago is known for its deep-dish pizza, served with a thick layer of toppings and cheese.

Meanwhile, in Brazil, pizza comes with a twist, often featuring unconventional toppings such as green peas, corn, and hearts of palm. This reflects the Brazilian flair for creativity and innovation in the kitchen. Pizza night in Brazil is also a social event, where pizzas are shared among friends and family, showcasing the communal aspect of eating pizza. This tradition highlights how pizza can bring people together, transcending cultural and geographical boundaries.

How do cultural practices influence the way pizza is prepared, served, and consumed globally?

Cultural practices play a significant role in the preparation, serving, and consumption of pizza around the world. For instance, in Japan, pizza is often seen as a luxury food item, leading to the creation of unique and sometimes extravagant toppings such as squid and eel. Japanese pizzas can also include a mayonnaise base, reflecting local tastes. The way pizza is served in Japan, often in smaller, more delicate slices, aligns with the Japanese emphasis on presentation and the aesthetic aspect of food.

In contrast, in the Middle East, particularly in countries like Lebanon, pizza (often referred to as “manakish”) is a breakfast food. It’s served with toppings like za’atar and cheese or ground meat. This reflects the regional dietary habits and the availability of local ingredients. The communal aspect of eating is also evident here, as manakish is typically shared among family members, reinforcing social bonds through the act of sharing a meal. This illustrates how cultural practices not only influence the ingredients and preparation methods but also the social context in which pizza is enjoyed.

Pizza with Strawberries


Are there any countries with unexpected pizza traditions?

One might be surprised to learn about the pizza tradition in Sweden, where “pizza salad” is a common accompaniment. This side dish, made from shredded cabbage, vinegar, salt, and sometimes pepper, is served with almost every pizza. It’s a unique tradition that reflects the Swedish love for pickled and fermented foods. Additionally, Sweden is known for its “kebab pizza,” topped with sliced doner kebab meat, fresh lettuce, tomatoes, and a drizzle of garlic sauce, showcasing the country’s multicultural influences on its culinary practices.

Another unexpected tradition comes from South Korea, where sweet potato is a popular pizza topping. Sweet potato puree is often used as a sauce base or stuffed into the crust, reflecting the Korean palate’s fondness for sweet-savory flavor combinations. Likewise, South Korea is famous for its “edge” pizzas, where the crust is filled with various ingredients like cream cheese or sweet potato mousse, adding an extra layer of flavor and texture to the pizza. These innovations highlight how global cuisines can inspire new and exciting ways to enjoy pizza.

How have global cuisines inspired innovative pizza toppings and formats?

Global cuisines have significantly influenced the evolution of pizza toppings and formats, leading to a fusion of flavors that defy traditional pizza conventions. For example, in India, pizza toppings might include tandoori chicken or paneer, with sauces that incorporate traditional spices like garam masala, reflecting the rich flavors of Indian cuisine. These pizzas often come with a side of mint chutney, offering a refreshing contrast to the spicy toppings. This fusion of Indian flavors with the Italian pizza base exemplifies how global cuisines can merge to create innovative dishes that appeal to local tastes.

In Australia, the “Aussie” pizza is a testament to the country’s love for unique and sometimes quirky food combinations. Topped with bacon, egg, and often barbecue sauce, this pizza variety reflects the Australian fondness for hearty, comforting foods. Additionally, the influence of Asian cuisines is evident in Australian pizzas that feature toppings like Peking duck or Thai chicken, complete with corresponding sauces and herbs. These examples illustrate how the global exchange of culinary ideas and ingredients can lead to the creation of new pizza varieties that cater to diverse palates and preferences.

Country Unique Pizza Tradition
Japan Okonomiyaki Pizza – a pizza topped with savory pancake ingredients like cabbage, pork, and seafood
Sweden Banana Curry Pizza – a pizza topped with bananas, curry sauce, chicken, peanuts, and pineapple
India Paneer Tikka Pizza – a pizza topped with Indian cottage cheese, marinated in spices and grilled
Australia Kangaroo Pizza – a pizza topped with kangaroo meat, emu, and crocodile
South Korea Bulgogi Pizza – a pizza topped with marinated beef, mushrooms, and onions

Did the Astros send pizza to Arlington?
byu/jookyhc inAstros

How do travelers and food bloggers contribute to the sharing of global pizza traditions?

Travelers and food bloggers play a huge role in spreading the word about different pizza traditions around the world. When they visit new places, they often try the local pizza and share their experiences online. For example, a food blogger visiting Naples, Italy, might post about their experience trying authentic Neapolitan pizza for the first time. They’ll talk about the thin crust, the fresh mozzarella, and how the pizza is cooked in a wood-fired oven. This kind of post can make their followers want to try Neapolitan pizza too, either by visiting Naples or finding a local restaurant that makes it the same way.

Food bloggers also love to share recipes and cooking tips. If they learn how to make a traditional pizza from another country, they might share that recipe on their blog or social media. This helps people from all over the world learn about and try making different kinds of pizza at home. For instance, a traveler who learned how to make Chicago-style deep-dish pizza during a trip to the United States might share a step-by-step guide on their blog. This way, people who have never been to Chicago can still experience a taste of its famous pizza.

A round pizza topped with kimchi, curry, pineapple, and chorizo slices, reflecting global culinary influences.
Photo: A round pizza topped with kimchi, curry, pineapple, and chorizo slices, reflecting global culinary influences.

What role does pizza play in cultural exchange and fusion cuisine?

Pizza has become a canvas for cultural exchange and fusion cuisine, blending flavors from different parts of the world. Chefs and home cooks alike experiment with toppings and styles, creating new kinds of pizza that reflect a mix of traditions. For example, in Korea, you might find a pizza topped with bulgogi (Korean marinated beef) and kimchi. This fusion pizza combines Italian and Korean flavors, introducing people to Korean cuisine in a familiar format. It’s a fun and delicious way to experience the merging of different culinary worlds.

Restaurants specializing in fusion cuisine often have unique pizzas on their menu that you can’t find anywhere else. These pizzas can tell a story about the place and the people who live there. In places like Los Angeles, known for its diverse population, you might find pizzas topped with ingredients from Mexican, Thai, or Armenian cuisine. This not only showcases the city’s multiculturalism but also encourages people to try new flavors and learn about different cultures through food. Pizza, with its universal appeal, is the perfect dish for this kind of creative culinary exploration.

Are there any global pizza traditions that have gained popularity internationally?

Yes, several global pizza traditions have become popular far beyond their places of origin. One of the best examples is the Neapolitan pizza from Naples, Italy. Recognized by UNESCO as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, Neapolitan pizza has set the standard for what many consider the “true” pizza. Its popularity has led to the opening of certified Neapolitan pizzerias in cities all over the world, from Tokyo to New York. People everywhere are drawn to its simple yet delicious combination of high-quality ingredients and traditional cooking methods.

Another example is the Detroit-style pizza, which has recently seen a surge in popularity outside of the United States. Characterized by its thick, square crust, cheesy edges, and reverse layering of ingredients (with cheese directly on the dough and sauce on top), Detroit-style pizza offers a unique take on the traditional pie. Social media and food bloggers have played a big part in spreading the word about this hearty, comforting style of pizza. As a result, more and more people are seeking it out or trying to recreate it at home, showing how a local specialty can capture the hearts and taste buds of pizza lovers worldwide.

Final Thoughts

As we’ve explored the world of pizza traditions, it’s fascinating to see how different cultures have put their own spin on this beloved dish, creating unique and diverse variations that reflect their heritage and tastes.

  • Japan’s squid ink pizza is a striking example of how local ingredients can be incorporated into a global favorite.
  • Sweden’s banana curry pizza showcases the fusion of international flavors in unexpected ways.
  • India’s paneer tikka pizza combines traditional Indian spices with a Western staple, creating a delicious blend of cultures.
  • Argentina’s fugazza con queso highlights the country’s love for thick, cheesy pizzas that are perfect for sharing with friends and family.
  • Lebanon’s manakish offers a taste of the Middle East with its flatbread base topped with za’atar, a flavorful herb mix.


Pizza: A Global History, Helstosky

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