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The History of Pita Bread: Practical & Healthy for Millennia

Pita bread is an even better invention than sliced bread. It is no wonder that this round pocket bread has been a staple of the Middle East for 4,000 years. In fact, pitas have been both a bread and a utensil throughout the Middle East and Eastern Mediterranean serving the function of loaves of bread in wheat centric areas of Europe, Africa and Asia.

History of Pitas

From what archeologists can determine, the pita originated with peoples west of the Mediterranean. It is not perfectly clear if it was the Amorites or the Bedouins were the inventors. Both the farming and desert society respectively adopted pitas as their own. Soon, its popularity spread as the Bedouin peoples traded and travel across the Arabian and Sahara desert.

Originally, the pita was a combination of dough that was let to sit and collect yeast and fresh dough until the discovery that brewers yeast works. In the Middle East, It is still often made in a backyard stove compared to the store-bought pitas that have spread all over the globe.

But the history of pitas can only really be appreciated through the taste. The pita though has to be tasted with all the different foods that thrive in or enwrapped by pita. And then you will understand that sliced bread is the best invention since pita bread.

Simple, Delicious and Spreading Around the Globe

It is a rather simple bread that could be made with limited technologies. Still, the possibilities to pack, dip or wrap a pita with are almost limitless. If possible, pitas are cooked at relatively high temperatures (around 800-900 Fahrenheit) and the flat dough expands dramatically forming an interior pocket (formed by steam). Baking is finished in only one minute!

Pitas’ popularity in the US is partially attributable to using the pocket like sandwich bread, but many traditional cultures use the pita more like a soft taco, either disregarding the pocket or having a pocketless pita. Additionally, the pita is taken apart into pieces and dipped in all types of sauces.

All the Possibilities

Pitas frequently are the bread of choice for lamb, steak, falafel, and chicken. It is traditionally accompanied by hummus, baba ganoush, tzatziki, or tabouleh. But those are only some of the foods that are historically eaten with pitas. Quite recently, people have come up with recipes that pair pitas with avocados and eggplants. Additionally, pita chips, a baked or fried brittle chip made from pita bread, can be eaten with nearly every dip imaginable.

Few breads are as nutritious as a whole wheat pita. It is good source of fiber and protein, with minimal fat. It has barely any sugar and has calcium. One pita normally has less calories than two slices of bread.

Creative Common Photos from Flickr