The big cheese of pizza get together
March 27, 1997
Web posted at: 12:00 a.m. EST
(CNN) -- The cognoscenti of crusts, the scholars of sauce and the masters of mozzarella are in Las Vegas, Nevada this week defining the cutting edge of America's favorite food. The National Association of Pizza Operators' annual Pizza Expo wraps up Thursday.
The three-day convention ventures well beyond "plain" and "pepperoni." In addition to plenty of samples and displays of the latest oven technology, the expo features a bake-off. Among the concoctions of this year's finalists: pumpkin pie pizza, seafood and artichoke pizza, and a pizza-crust chicken club sandwich.
Unusual pies represent a trend in pizza, according to Bob Jordan of the National Association of Pizza Operators.
"Some more exotic things are becoming popular," he says. "I've been seeing calamari -- that's a big favorite in Australia. And of course feta and olives from Greece -- that's becoming popular -- and black bean sauce from Guatemala."
"Then there's curry and mutton from Malaysia," he continues. "And cabbage and sausage from Poland -- I haven't seen that catching on."
The expo also cuts to the basics of good pizza.
"We have a pizza boot camp to show what goes into making a great crust," says Jordan. "For instance, this year, we have a great crop of wheat --- the glutens are strong and the wheat absorbs a lot of water, so the mixture that may have worked last year would be too dry this year."
Who knew 'za was so scientific?
The Expo caters to pizza professionals, but it's open to the public (admission fees range between about $60 and $180).
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