Pizza has been considered top comfort food by many ever since it has originated in Italy. It is a versatile food that you can serve to guests and can be enjoyed at different celebrations and special occasions. In addition to being an affordable dish, it is also quick to prepare and convenient to access. You can easily order a box and have it delivered to your home. But what makes pizza a really satisfying dish is its unbeatable taste that enthralls people around the world.
What do you think is the secret behind what makes pizza almost impossible to resist for a lot of people? If you also want to know the answer, you’re in the right place. Today, we are going to give you the interesting science of why pizza tastes so good.
What is the Flavor That Makes Pizza Tempting?
Let us start with the flavor that makes people crave pizza, which is umami. Pizza has lots of umami. It is a Japanese word that means “delicious.” Like other types of takes, such as salty, sweet, sour, and bitter, umami is also a rich and savory flavor that people’s taste buds can recognize. The substances in all kinds of pizza, including pepperoni, Hawaiian, and more, stimulate the taste buds and make you feel and recognize umami. And as you taste it in your pizza, it will make you crave for it more.
Glutamate: A Pizza Flavor Enhancer
Monosodium glutamate or MSG is popularly used in foods to enhance their flavors, and this includes pizza. It is an amino acid that works as a flavor enhancer. Pizza toppings are also rich in glutamate, which is found in cheese, sausage, pepperoni, and tomatoes. When glutamate touches our tongues, it tells our brains to get excited and crave more of it. It can cause our mouths to water in the eagerness of the next bite.
A regular size of pizza contains about three tablespoons of tomato sauce, which has 140 milligrams of glutamate. Aside from that, it also has around one tablespoon of parmesan cheese that contains about 75 milligrams of glutamate. When combined with other pizza toppings that are also flavor enhancers, you will surely be hooked with every bite, which will leave you wanting more.
Another scientific explanation behind the taste of pizza is the combination of ingredients. Pizza toppings such as tomato sauce and cheese already taste good on their own. But based on culinary scientists, these toppings have flavor compounds that make them taste even better when they are eaten together.
Pairing similar flavor compounds can make the flavors more defined. Therefore, when you combine mozzarella cheese and tomatoes that have 4methylpentanoic acid, which is a flavor compound, you will surely get the best pizza experience that you deserve.
Toasted Ingredients Make Pizza More Enticing
Another scientific explanation of what makes pizza so delicious is its ingredients become brown while cooking in the oven. Foods turn brown and crispy when they are cooked due to two chemical reactions, which are caramelization and Maillard reaction.
Caramelization happens when the sugars in food become brown. Most food has at least some sugar. Once they are between 230 to 320 degrees, their sugars start to turn brown. Caramel is one of the most complex food products as it is made from several thousand compounds. Pizza ingredients such as onions and tomatoes turn out to be caramelized when they are baked in the oven, and this makes them rich, sweet, and flavorful. The brown and crispy crust of the pizza is also a result of the dough caramelizing.
When the meat and cheese on the pizza get brown, it is caused by a different process called the Maillard reaction. This reaction is named after the French chemist Louis-Camille Maillard. It occurs when the amino acids in high-protein foods, such as pepperoni and cheese react with the sugars in those foods when heated. Some of the examples of this chemical reaction are the pepperonis with crispy curled edges and the cheese that browns and bubbles.
Pizza is certainly an irresistible dish, and some believe that no one can really have only one slice of it. However, while it is truly enjoyable and satisfying, you need to keep in mind that it also contributes to about 27% of the total calorie intake, about a third of the total sodium intake, and a raised saturated fat intake for a person in a day. Therefore, if you’d like to eat pizza but in a healthy way, it is best to pick toppings that are rich in nutrients that your body needs.
Pizza might seem like simple food with bread, cheese, and tomato sauce as its base, but it is not. Learning about the science behind its delicious taste is amazing. With this, the next time you will be eating a slice of pizza, you can now appreciate all of its elements that thrill our taste buds, excite our brains, and cause our mouths to water. If you want to learn more about pizza, check out our Ultimate Guide to Pizza, which contains all the things you need to know about this delicious and popular dish.