When I moved to North Jersey three decades ago, I naturally gravitated to the Middle Eastern food bazaar in the South Paterson section of Paterson that straddles the Clifton border. As the years passed, great pita bread bakeries came and went, including Amir's, which formed the bread by hand and turned out a deliciously chewy loaf that stood up to stuffing with meat, salad, hummus and whatever else you could cram into it. In those days, no preservatives were used -- just flour, yeast, water and salt.
Today, only a few bakeries in Paterson sell the bread, including Fattal's and Nouri's. But for a decade or more, I have noticed a preference at some restaurants for the thinner, Lebanese-style pita over the slightly thicker Syrian-style loaf. No big deal you would think, but some Lebanese restaurants refused to buy freshly baked local pita and served thinner bread imported from Canada that often was cardboardy and didn't stand up to stuffing with food.
Fattal's loaf, although it is no longer baked in Paterson, has been my preferred bread since Amir's handmade, preservative-free, Lebanese-stlye pita disappeared. Despite the addition of calcium propionate to retard spoilage, Fattal's pita is pliable and stands up well to heating in the toaster. (Calcium propionate is an organic salt that inhibits the growth of mold and is considered one of the safest food additives, according to science.jrank.org.)
This week, I purchased a bag of Nouri's pita and found it is thinner and doesn't heat as well or stand up as well to stuffing. And since any meal can be eaten stuffed into pita, a pita you can't stuff is a pita you don't want.