Tahlequah Daily Press

October 3, 2013

Pie in the sky

It’s National Pizza Month; what’s your topping?

Staff Writer

TAHLEQUAH — If any further reason is needed for people to eat pizza, October is National Pizza Month.

First observed in 1984, National Pizza Month was designated by an Indiana pizzeria owner who wanted to increase the pizza industry’s presence with dedicated publications and tradeshows.

There is little need to raise awareness of pizza in the U.S. Almost all Americans eat pizza at least once a month. Recent estimates of U.S. pizza consumption are expressed in slices per person per year (45), slices eaten nationwide per second (350) and acreage per day (100).

In Tahlequah, two of the most popular pie establishments are Sam & Ella’s Chicken Palace, and Pizza By Manooch, owned by Manoochehr Hatami, a local purveyor of pizza since 1980.

“I first got into selling pizza to help pay my tuition while earning my master’s degree at Northeastern State University,” Hatami said. “It is easy to make, the overhead is low and it is profitable.”

Hatami opened Pizza by Manooch in 2007, but he has operated pizzerias under different names through the decades. He said there are many reasons for the popularity of pizza.

“You can put many different ingredients on it,” he said. “You can keep leftover pizza in the refrigerator to eat later and it still tastes good. And for the price of one large pizza you can feed four people, so it isn’t expensive.”

The few Americans who don’t eat pizza may avoid it for different reasons. Many dietitians say pizza need not be forbidden for people trying to lose weight or eat healthy.

Pizza can cause weight gain if eaten in excess, but so do most things. Most recipes also include salt in the sauce, dough and toppings.

But if eaten in sensible portions - a slice or two - pizza is a mix of ingredients that includes every USDA food group except fruit. Even then, some folks like ham and pineapple pizza. The crust includes grain, the cheese is a dairy product, and toppings may include small amounts of meat for protein, and vegetables. A pizza slice can be part of a balanced meal if eaten with fruit, and vegetables or a green-leaf salad.

When ordering or making a pie, choose toppings which are compatible with the household’s diets. Many pizzerias offer lower calorie options with lighter toppings such as broccoli, tomatoes, onions, olives, bell peppers, garlic, spinach, pineapple and - for those who must include meat - chicken.