People have been piling stuff on dough, and then heating it up, for thousands of years. That includes the Chinese, who some believe gave Marco Polo scallion pancakes, leading to the theory that he introduced pizza to Italy.
Others point to the ancient Greeks, who covered their flatbreads with herbs, oil, and cheese. But no matter who is responsible for pizza, there is no denying that it has serious global appeal. Here are nine of our favorites pies and pizza-like creations from around the world.
Lahmacun starts life as a flat, thin piece of dough, akin to a prebaked cracker. Next comes a thin layer of minced meat (lamb or beef), red pepper paste, onions, herbs, and spices. It's put in a stone oven so hot that everything cooks in a few minutes. When it comes out, the lahmacun receives a handful of chopped parsley and a squirt of lemon juice.
Tarte flambée, France
Often called flammekueche (which means "cooked in a flame"), tarte flambée is a specialty of Alsace, France. The dough is rolled into an impossibly thin rectangle or circle and covered with a layer of crème fraîche. Baked in an oven, rather than set aflame, this dish might come with munster, gruyère, mushrooms, onions, bacon, or apples.
Imagine pizza minus the cheese and the tomato sauce, but with onions and herbs, and you now have a sense of the way fugazza is made and served in Argentina. Alternatively, picture focaccia loaded with seasoning and perhaps olives, onions, or parmesan. Either way, it's good. Some people take things one step further and order a slice of fainá, a wedge of bread made from chickpea flour. The fainá goes on top of the fugazza to make fainá a caballo, or fainá on horseback.
This dish can be described in several ways: A savory pancake, a Japanese crepe, an overstuffed omelet, or, roughly translated, "what you want grilled." First comes the batter, a mixture of water or dashi, grated nagaimo (a type of yam), eggs, and shredded cabbage. Into this might go thinly cut pork belly, shrimp, kimchi, mochi (rice cake), vegetables, octopus, or squid. Then the whole thing gets put on a grill, and finished with layers of aonori (green seaweed), Kewpie mayo, dried bonito flakes, pickled ginger, and sweet okonomi sauce.
The national dish of Georgia varies by region, by restaurant, and even by baker. In some places, khachapuri resembles cheese pizza without the tomato sauce, yet boasting the familiar chewy crust. In others, it might come stuffed with a layer of cheese or shaped like a boat, which is topped with an egg just waiting to run. The dish has economic significance, too: The Khachapuri Index Project tracks the country's inflation based on the costs of making khachapuri.
Getting pizza in Italy is like getting a tan at the beach or a hot dog at a baseball game — it's just what you do when you're there. Of all the varieties on offer, sfincione (Sicilian) tends to have the thickest, breadiest dough, which can be shaped into a rectangle or into a circle like a Neapolitan pie before baking. You'll typically see such toppings as herbs, caramelized onions, breadcrumbs, southern Italian cheese like pecorino or caciocavallo, anchovies, and tomato slices or paste.
This Palestinian dish combines chicken with sumac, allspice, cinnamon, olive oil, and pine nuts on taboon bread, a type of flatbread perfect for soaking up savory meat juices. Translated as "something that is heated," musakhan makes for a warm, hearty starter or accompaniment for soup. Versions of musakhan are eaten throughout the Middle East, either layered like a casserole or folded like a burrito.
Thunfisch pizza, Germany
One of the most beloved pizzas in Germany is thunfisch pizza, or tuna fish pizza. The tuna usually nestles among tomato sauce, peppers, onions, cheese, and oregano. You can order it at pizzerias (including Domino's and Pizza Hut), buy it at grocery stores, or make it at home. Seafood pizza is popular in Russia as well, where they top with it fish like mackerel, salmon, and sardines.
Shrimp Gold, South Korea
Since 1990, Mr. Pizza has made variations of its Shrimp Gold pie at locations throughout South Korea. More than 20 years later, the chain opened its first restaurant in Los Angeles. A favorite in both countries, the pizza is loaded with corn, mozzarella, mushrooms, peppers, jalapenos, olives, onions, ground beef, salsa sauce, bacon bits, and Cajun shrimp, served on a sweet potato mousse-filled crust.