Why Pizza Tastes So Good

Why Pizza Tastes So Good?
One slice is never enough. Radu Bercan/Shutterstock.com 

Pizza is one of the world’s most popular foods.

In the U.S., 350 slices are eaten every second, while 40% of Americans eat pizza at least once a week.

There’s a reason why pizza is so popular. Humans are drawn to foods that are fatty and sweet and rich and complex. Pizza has all of these components. Cheese is fatty, meat toppings tend to be rich, and the sauce is sweet.

Pizza toppings are also packed with a compound called glutamate, which can be found in the tomatoes, cheese, pepperoni and sausage. When glutamate hits our tongues, it tells our brains to get excited – and to crave more of it. This compound actually causes our mouths to water in anticipation of the next bite.

Then there are the combinations of ingredients. Cheese and tomato sauce are like a perfect marriage. On their own, they taste pretty good. But according to culinary scientists, they contain flavor compounds that taste even better when eaten together.

Another quality of pizza that makes it so delicious: Its ingredients become brown while cooking in the oven.

Foods turn brown and crispy when we cook them because of two chemical reactions.


 Get The Latest From InnerSelf


The first is called caramelization, which happens when the sugars in a food become brown. Most foods contain at least some sugar; once foods are between 230 and 320 degrees, their sugars begin to turn brown. Caramel is made from several thousand compounds, making it one of the most complex food products. On a pizza, ingredients like onions and tomatoes become caramelized during baking, making them rich and sweet and flavorful. That brown and crispy crust is also the result of the dough caramelizing.

While the meat and cheese on your pizza also get brown, this is due to a different process called the “Maillard reaction,” which is named after French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard.

Why Pizza Tastes So Good
When pizza bakes in the oven, the ingredients become browned – and even tastier. Andrewshots/Shutterstock.com

The Maillard reaction occurs when the amino acids in high-protein foods like cheese and pepperoni react with the sugars in those foods when heated. Pepperonis that become crispy with curled edges, and cheese that browns and bubbles, are examples of the Maillard reaction at work.

With bread, cheese and tomato sauce as its base, pizza might seem like a simple food.

It isn’t. And now, the next time you’re about to devour a slice, you’ll be able to appreciate all of the elements of pizza that excite our brains, thrill our taste buds and cause our mouths to water.

About The Author

Jeffrey Miller, Associate Professor, Hospitality Management, Colorado State University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Recommended Books:

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind -- by Peter Wayne.

The Harvard Medical School Guide to Tai Chi: 12 Weeks to a Healthy Body, Strong Heart, and Sharp Mind -- by Peter Wayne.Cutting-edge research from Harvard Medical School supports the long-standing claims that Tai Chi has a beneficial impact on the health of the heart, bones, nerves and muscles, immune system, and the mind. Dr. Peter M. Wayne, a longtime Tai Chi teacher and a researcher at Harvard Medical School, developed and tested protocols similar to the simplified program he includes in this book, which is suited to people of all ages, and can be done in just a few minutes a day.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


Browsing Nature's Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs
by Wendy and Eric Brown.

Browsing Nature's Aisles: A Year of Foraging for Wild Food in the Suburbs by Wendy and Eric Brown.As part of their commitment to self-reliance and resiliency, Wendy and Eric Brown decided to spend a year incorporating wild foods as a regular part of their diet. With information on collecting, preparing, and preserving easily identifiable wild edibles found in most suburban landscapes, this unique and inspiring guide is a must-read for anyone who wants to enhance their family's food security by availing themselves of the cornucopia on their doorstep.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About It -- edited by Karl Weber.

Food Inc.: A Participant Guide: How Industrial Food is Making Us Sicker, Fatter, and Poorer-And What You Can Do About ItWhere has my food come from, and who has processed it? What are the giant agribusinesses and what stake do they have in maintaining the status quo of food production and consumption? How can I feed my family healthy foods affordably? Expanding on the film’s themes, the book Food, Inc. will answer those questions through a series of challenging essays by leading experts and thinkers. This book will encourage those inspired by the film to learn more about the issues, and act to change the world.

Click here for more info and/or to order this book on Amazon.


enafarzh-CNzh-TWnltlfifrdehiiditjakomsnofaptruessvtrvi

follow InnerSelf on

facebook-icontwitter-iconrss-icon

 Get The Latest By Email

{emailcloak=off}