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Italy is seeking Unesco World Heritage status for the Neapolitan pizza. The status is awarded to cultural treasures such as songs, places, art and endangered languages.
In August, Italy, Greece, Spain and Morocco successfully lobbied to get the Mediterranean diet on the United Nations’ Unesco list, which promotes and protects its authenticity.
Now, Italians are seeking the same recognition for the Neapolitan, which is made with tomatoes, basil and Mozzarrella cheese, representing the three colors of Italy’s flag. The dish debuted in the 1700s and later – in 1889 – was presented to Queen Margherita and a version named after her.
The pie is already promoted by the Associazione Vera Pizza Napoletana, which outlines its genuine characteristics. These include wheat flour, natural Neapolitan yeast or brewer’s yeast, salt and water.
The dough must be kneaded by hand or a low-speed mixer, and formed by hand to no more than 1/8–inch thick. The Neapolitans are baked for 60 to 90 seconds in a 905-degree Fahrenheit oak wood fired oven.
According to The Guardian, Italy’s pitch for the Neapolitan pizza is up for consideration this year, along with Sienna’s Palio horse race, violin-making in Cremona, Viareggio’s carnival procession and ancient festivals in Nola and Viterbo.
Only two of these “candidates” will qualify for Unesco’s annual list. Analysts expect the Naples’ signature pie to qualify after it was voted by Italians to be one of the dishes that best sums up the nation, along with pasta.
An Italian farmers’ lobby group is claiming that Unesco status is urgently needed, as about half of all pizzas in Italy now contain imported ingredients, unbeknownst to consumers and compromising the dish’s authenticity.