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Pita Bread: Fill and Be Filled
Sandwiches and snacks here start with great bread. Read on to learn where the pita comes from.
Pita soaks up savory juices and stands up to hummus on tables all over the greater Mediterranean. The word is Greek, but in the Arabic-speaking Middle East it’s called khubz, which simply means “bread.” It shares an etymology with “pizza,” making quick-and-easy pita pizzas almost traditional. Of course, a pita can be filled with anything from gyro meat to falafel balls owing to its signature pocket—created when the water in the dough turns to steam and pushes up the bread while trying to escape. It’s also common, however, to just place ingredients in the middle of the uncut bread and fold it to make a sort of giant taco or funny puppet mouth.
Minimally leavened and requiring only wheat flour, water, and yeast, pita is among the earliest forms of bread. Bakers hard at work on bread that looks much like pita can be seen in hieroglyphics in Egyptian tombs. Although it isn’t complicated to make, the field does have its specialists. The first Arabic cookbooks contained no recipes for pita, since families typically bought their daily bread from local bakers, and even today, bakeries devoted almost exclusively to pita can be found in many cities.