Cold pizza is the holy grail of leftovers.
That's a statement that elicits a slew of impassioned feelings. Either you love the idea of biting into soft crust and cold, fatty cheese, or scowl at the idea of pizza that isn't hot, crisp, and melty. Yet if we were to stand by the former sentiment, how would we argue on its behalf?
As a general rule of thumb, how good leftovers taste will depend on their structural properties. Sushi, a simple dish consisting of fish and rice, should be consumed within 24 hours, so it's not recommended you save it for the next day for safety as well as flavor reasons.
As soon as a fish dies, bacteria already present in and on the fish begin to attack it, quickly making its delicate taste and texture deteriorate.
The same can be said for that chicken salad you just ordered, whose delicate lettuce leaves begin to wilt once the dressing hits. The more salt in the dressing, which draws moisture from the greens, the faster they soften.
The good news? Other foods, like stew, curry, and pizza benefit from spending time in the fridge. Dr. Kantha Shelke, spokesperson for the Institute of Food Technologists, tells Forbes that meals that improve over time share one thing in common: aromatic properties that add pungency to a dish.
When you eat something like curry that's hot from the kitchen, the flavors and aromas are still distinct and your taste buds are able to differentiate between them. However, as it cools down, the individual flavor compounds begin to meld together. What results is a mellower, fuller flavor without the harshness you originally tasted.
This makes pizza an excellent candidate for leftover hall of fame. Packed with garlic and a medley of herbs, like curry, a pie's aromas and flavor notes get a chance to calm down after a night in the fridge. According to Dr. Maureen Cooper from Stirling University in a delightful interview with BBC News, another big factor behind leftover pizza's desirable taste comes from its tomato purée.
The average pizza dough consists of fibers that trap water molecules, keeping moisture that would otherwise turn it into a soggy mess at bay. From there, the fact that oil and water don't mix works in favor for cold pizza, as the melted cheese settles above the purée. "Because the fat does not go through to the base, the pizza itself tastes so much better," says Dr. Cooper.
So, has pizza officially dethroned all breakfast foods? Throw a fried egg on top of it, then we'll talk.
Learn how to make two-ingredient pizza dough (and why it works) or make a killer pizza without any dough at all. If you're feeling adventurous, be sure to check out nine pizza hacks you need to try before you die. And if you're ordering out, you need to know why you should always order the large pizza.