[spicy review] We Love Pizza by Elenia Beretta

Put on your bib, it’s pizza time!

Did you know there’s a brand new picture book celebrating our favorite cheesy, crusty, spicy, tomato-luscious food? Bet you’d love to wrap your lips around a warm, ooey gooey slice right this minute. 🙂

Elenia Beretta’s We Love Pizza: Everything you want to know about your number one food (Little Gestalten, 2021) opens with this savory poem:

THE WORLD'S FAVORITE FOOD

The world is full of people,
And people have to eat,
And if they had to choose a dish,
There’s one that’s hard to beat.

You make it and you bake it,
Or you buy it in a shop.
It can be soft or crunchy,
And have lots of things on top.

It’s simple but delicious --
That’s how it’s earned its fame.
Have you now guessed what it is?
Yes, PIZZA is its name!

This delectable introduction to the dish for pizza lovers of all ages is packed with fascinating tidbits sure to surprise and delight.

Where did pizza originate and how did it come to America? What are the different sizes and shapes of pizza? What exactly is a pizzeria and who are some of the people associated with it? How do you make your own pizza, and best of all, what kinds of toppings do people all over the world prefer?

These are just some of the interesting topics featured in Beretta’s colorful, fact-filled spreads, which include verse introductions along with whimsical images reflecting pizza’s international appeal.

Did you know pizza as we know it is at least 2500 years old? Born in Naples, it was first sold by street vendors in the 18th century as a simple food for the poor. It wasn’t until 1830 that the first known pizzeria opened in Naples (Antica Pizzeria Port’Alba changed pizza’s image as a food for everyone and is still open today). Pizza then made its way to America in the late 19th century via Italian immigrants.

My favorite section in the book, “Pizzas From Around the World,” cites 15 different types, many of them new to me. 

There are different tastes east, west, north, south,
But there’s a topping for every mouth!

Didn’t realize there’s a Japanese pizza called Okonomiyaki, whose name means “cook what you like.” It’s made with flour, yam, and shredded cabbage, with toppings like pork, octopus, and squid! (Think I’ll pass on that one.)

Then there’s one from Australia called Coat of Arms Pizza: “The toppings are kangaroo and emu, and you’ll only find these on the coat of arms of the country that is the smallest continent in the world ” (pass again).

Hmmm, would I be brave enough to try a Pizza Kebab, which is “a mixture of Turkish chicken, lamb, or beef, and Italian cheese and sauce”? Oddly enough, neither the Turks nor the Italians like it, but the Swedes love it. I don’t like lamb, so . . .

I certainly don’t have enough ‘pocket money’ to afford a 24K pizza, “a luxury pizza covered with edible 24-karat gold that costs 2,000 dollars.” Apparently the gold is about giving the pizza a little shine but it doesn’t add any flavor. Wonder who eats those?

Guess I’ll stick with either the Quattro Formaggi, with its four cheeses, or a Hawaiian Pizza, which, BTW, was invented by a man in Canada who thought ham and pineapple would be a good idea. Surprised to learn it’s one of the most popular pizzas in the world. 

Kids will likely also get a kick out of the “How Many” spread with its focus on numbers. Americans eat 350 slices of pizza per second, which translates into 46 slices a year; Brazilians inhale about a million pizzas each day, with the British chowing down 10 lbs. worth every year.

Guess who eats the most pizza? No, not the Italians (they’re torn between pizza and pasta).  Surprise, surprise, it’s the Norwegians — the average person there eats 11 pizzas per year (they love the frozen ones)! 

Check out “Pizza Records”: a man named “Scott Wiener from New York City has the largest collection of pizza boxes in the world” (1500 boxes). The world’s largest pizza was created by a group of chefs in Rome — it covered a surface area of 13,580 feet, and the longest pizza was cooked up by 100 pizza makers in California — it was 6,333 feet long! Now that’s a LOT of sauce and cheese. *smacks lips*

After nibbling on all this delicious pizza info, chances are good you’ll want to try making your own. Beretta introduces us to Chef Charlotte, who provides an illustrated list of ingredients and friendly step-by-step diagrams on how to make a proper pizza dough in addition to homemade sauce (toppings are your choice).

Readers will enjoy drooling their way through this yummy book with its charming pictures ( people cutting a gigantic pizza with huge cutters, tantalizing close-ups of a comely Margherita pizza). And of course they’ll want to try as many of the new-to-them toppings as possible. 🙂

But when all is said and done, no matter what kind of pizza you prefer, the best ones are those you share with family and friends.

All of us love pizza.
There’s a smile on every face.
If the world was one big pizza,
It would be a happy place.

With its global popularity, pizza is truly a food that connects us all. In We Love Pizza, Elenia Beretta serves up generous slices of history, trivia, descriptions, backstory, tips, art, and fun.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, a pepperoni pizza with mushrooms and black olives is calling my name. 🙂

What do you like — thin and crispy or thick and chewy crust? Detroit style, New York, or Chicago deep dish? Do you fold your pizza, eat it with a knife and fork, or straight out of the box? What are you favorite toppings?

Buon Appetito!

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WE LOVE PIZZA: Everything you want to know about your number one food
written and illustrated by Elenia Beretta
published by Little Gestalten, June 2021
Nonfiction Picture Book for ages 5-9, 44 pp.

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Author, poet and (maybe) pizza chef Matt Forrest Esenwine is hosting the Roundup at Radio, Rhythm & Rhyme. Zip over there to check out the full menu of poetic goodness being served up around the blogosphere this week. Happy Weekend!

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*Interior spreads text and illustrations copyright © 2021 Elenia Beretta, published by Little Gestalten, 2021. All rights reserved.

**This post contains Amazon and Bookshop Affiliate links. When you purchase an item using a link on this site, Jama’s Alphabet Soup receives a small referral fee. Choose Bookshop to support independent bookstores. Thanks!

***Copyright © 2021 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.

28 thoughts on “[spicy review] We Love Pizza by Elenia Beretta

  1. This book is so cool. Believe it or not, my favorite topping is anchovies on a marinara pizza. However, I never get it, because my husband doesn’t like it!! So for me, it sautéed chunks of eggplant or just mozzarella cheese and sauce. I am Italian American and in NYC, so of course New York style, thin and folded! And, if you ever come to NYC, you must come to the real Little Italy in the Bronx near Fordham University and get a slice from Full Moon Pizza!! By the way, I am ordering Ms Beretta’s book today!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m with your husband on the anchovies — definitely an acquired taste, but I love eggplant (never tried it on pizza, though). Thanks for the tip on Full Moon Pizza :)!

      Like

  2. Jama, you make me crave a good piece of pizza now. Guess what? The pizza in Virginia where I live is not as delicious as New York pizza. My Nonnie made our pizzas and passed the tradition down to my Mom and me. If I could find good Italian pizza, my family would be so happy. We keep on trying so maybe one day we will find a locale restaurant that delivers. You certainly delivered a mouthful today, so many thanks for the introduction to a new book with many more facts than I knew.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. How lucky you grew up with homemade pizza, Carol — that’s hard to beat. Hope you find some good Italian pizza in your area — enjoy the search!

      Like

  3. Thick & chewy, pineapple & pepperoni, please! We have a new Italian place across the street in the neighborhood retail spaces – yum – & fun to order & walk for it! Thanks, Jama, a new book to share!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I have tried okonomiaki in Japan! It’s a very popular party dish. What puzzles me is the Mayo and ketchup squirted over it! Spinach, feta, onions and Greek olives for me, please. What a great book.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. My son is a pizza-a-holic. This book is a must have for my household! This post and the comments have sparked an idea about thanksgiving. My daughter and I usually cook thanksgiving. A story about why we cook thanksgiving would be a good one. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. My husband’s ancestors come from Naples and Sicily and there isn’t an Italian dish we don’t love, including anchovies. This book looks fun and since kids eat so much of it, they might love learning about pizza.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Sorry to hear you can’t have pizza. Recently, we’ve started making our own with plant based cheese. Of course if you’re gluten free that wouldn’t help . . .

      Like

  7. I love this book idea! My husband’s family are from Sicily, so natural they pray to a pizza statue! Luckily we are in NY so I’m definitely going to have to check out Full Moon Pizza, especially since that’s where my husband’s family grew up! And of course, I’m going to have to get this book! Thanks for a wonderful post.

    Like

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