Neapolitan pizza making wins world heritage status

Italy had argued the practice of 'pizzaiuolo' was part of the country's cultural and gastronomic tradition

Reuters December 07, 2017
Pizza Margherita is prepared in a wood-fired oven at L'Antica Pizzeria da Michele in Naples, Italy December 6, 2017. PHOTO: REUTERS

JEJU: The art of Neapolitan pizza making won world heritage status on Thursday, joining a horse-riding game from Iran and Dutch wind mills on UNESCO's culture list.

UNESCO accepted the art of Neapolitan 'pizzaiuolo' on the world body's list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. "Congratulations #Italy!" it said in a tweet after a meeting in Jeju, South Korea where the decision was made. In Rome, pizzeria owner Romano Fiore celebrated the decision. "I am honoured, like all Italians and Neapolitans has centuries of history," he said.

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Italy had argued the practice of pizzaiuolo - from preparing and flipping the pizza dough to baking it in a wood-fired oven - was part of the country's cultural and gastronomic tradition. Traditional Neapolitan pizza has a relatively thin crust with the exception of the rim, which, when baked, bloats like a tiny bicycle tyre.

It is rigorously made in a wood-burning brick oven and has two classic versions: Marinara (tomato, garlic, oregano and oil) and, the most famous, Margherita (tomato, mozzarella, oil and basil). Tradition holds the Margherita pizza was created in 1889 by a local chef in honour of Queen Margherita, who was visiting Naples, south of Rome on Italy's Tyrrhenian coast. It has the red, white and green colors of the Italian flag.

As pizza has become a favourite dish around the world, foreign innovations in toppings have often left Italians perplexed and aghast. Matteo Martino, a customer at Fiore's pizzeria, said before the expected announcement, "I think, and I hope, that this could be the chance to make foreigners understand how pizza is made, without Nutella or pineapple."

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UNESCO also accepted Chogan, an Iranian horse-riding game accompanied by music and storytelling, and the craft of millers operating windmills and watermills in the Netherlands. Traditional boat making on the Indonesian island of South Sulawesi, and Nsima, a maize-based culinary tradition from the African country of Malawi, also joined the list.

Food culture already on the UNESCO list includes Turkish coffee culture and tradition, the gingerbread craft of northern Croatia and the traditional ancient Georgian method of Qvevri wine-making.


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