Where Pita Bread Comes From

Where is pita bread from? That is a question that many ask about the wonderful little pocket bread that we have all come to love. The exact country of origin cannot be agreed on but it is believed to have come from the Middle East.

Although the exact origin is unknown, these versatile middle-eastern flatbreads are perhaps the oldest breads known. Soft and thin, they provided the basis for a variety of popular portable items. The most notably being pizza and a variety of filled pocket or rolled sandwiches. Modern menus often call these "wraps." Asian and European pancakes are related in both method and function.

The name had a common origin with pizza. In the early centuries of our era, the traditional Greek word for a thin flat bread or cake, plakous, had become the name of a thicker cake. The new word that came into use for flat bread was pita. The word spread to Southern Italy as the name of thin bread. In Northern Italian dialects, pita became pizza, now known primarily as the bearer of savory toppings but essentially still flat bread.

There are two different types of pita: The pocket style is often stuffed to make falafel, gyros or other sandwiches. It is made by placing a thin layer of dough on a convex sheet placed over an open fire. Due to the high heat, the dough inflates with air as it cooks so that there are two separate layers when it deflates. They can be seasoned and recooked to create crispy chips. The thicker, single-layer Greek style pita is better for scooping sauces or dips, such as hummus or tzatziki, and is traditionally cooked in a stone floor oven.

Pita Bread can be made in many different ways with different ingredients. Some use grains other than wheat such as corn. They can be baked, fried, grilled and even steamed, but taste much better when just baked rather than shop bought, possibly several days old.

Pita has been around for centuries. It just goes to show that, maybe, simple is better.