Pita bread has been a staple in different Mediterranean and Middle Eastern dishes for approximately four thousand years. Whether or not you are fond of these cuisines, you probably have tried (or are at least familiar with) this round, flat wheat flour bread. To learn more about what makes it the food we all know and love that it is today, keep reading.
The History of Pita Bread
Pita bread likely originated within communities located west of the Mediterranean Sea, with the Amorites or the Bedouins as its known inventors. Afterward, the farming and desert society adopted pitas as their own. This well-loved food soon became even more popular as the Bedouin peoples traded and traveled across the Sahara and Arabian desert.
The first pita bread is a dough made of flour and water. It was left out to sit and collect the natural yeasts present in the surrounding environment. These yeast spores let the bread rise. Eventually, brewer’s yeast was added to the dough to make the bread rise even more quickly. The loaves were then cooked in an outdoor oven.
Pita bread is one-of-a-kind because it serves different purposes. Besides being served as a meal in wheat-centric areas like Asia, Africa, and Europe, some regions use it in place of spoons or forks, making it known as an edible utensil. For instance, it is part of Egyptians’ regular table setting for scooping up food, dips, and sauces.
The Modern Pita Bread
In the Middle East, pita bread is still often made on a backyard stove. However, it now comes in a version that can be cooked in a standard indoor oven at very high temperatures. It is usually made with active baker’s yeast, salt, and some sugar. After a few minutes, the flat dough expands and cooks.
In actuality, pita bread has a rather simple formula. It could be made with the basic ingredients and limited technologies. What makes it special is that it can be enjoyed in almost limitless ways. For example, in Mediterranean cuisine, it can be stuffed with meat and vegetables. Alternatively, you can serve it like a sandwich for a light meal.
In addition, this bread is traditionally accompanied by hummus, tzatziki, baba ganoush, or tabbouleh. Food enthusiasts who want to shy away from the historical approach of eating pita bread and want to try new ways of enjoying it came up with innovative recipes. For example, they pair it with eggplant and avocados. Some even created pita chips. These are fried or baked chips made from pita bread and can be devoured with any dip.
This round bread is also commonly used to make a pita wrap called shawarma, and it is typically stuffed with chicken, lamb, or beef. Many traditional cultures use it more like a soft taco. However, in the US, it is commonly served as sandwich bread, which uses the pocket part of the bread.
Discovering the history of pita bread is part of the experience of enjoying it. Although you already know how it came to be one of the most popular foods in the world, it can only be really appreciated through taste. This is why now is the best time to treat your tummy and taste buds with this delightful snack and head to a gyro spot near you.
At George’s Gyros Spot, our hand-carved gyros are served on grilled pita bread and added with other fresh ingredients. We also offer burgers, fries, and more for diners in Chesterton, Indiana. Contact us to order through a drive-thru, carry out, or dine in!