Two million Italians have signed a petition asking the United Nation's cultural division — Unesco — to give Neapolitan pizza its official World Heritage status. The intergovernmental committee cultural heritage will review it when it meets next week in Seoul, a Unesco spokeswoman confirmed this morning. According to the petition and application for the status, Italians have apparently had it with the indignities the world has strewn over its culinary claim to fame, including everything like pineapples, non-Italian sauces and cheeses, and other edible "grafitti."
The campaign, led by a Naples pizza makers association, Pizziuoli, is being made to gain official recognition that pizza creation is an art form, born in the city of Naples, and the status would protect this art from misappropriation and even food piracy. Specifically, the application for status makes it clear that Italians and the pizza makers' organization see Neapolitan Pizzaiuolo as a dish with four distinct and very well-defined phases — all critical to the creation of the dish. These include:
- The correct preparation of the dough and beechwood-burning oven.
- The "spinning and twirling" of the dough to create the crust with the "correct oxygenation and consistency."
- The topping of the dough and placement of ingredients.
- The baking of the prepared pizza and "rotatory movement of the baker."
The petition cites alleged "abuses" of the Italian-born dish, like the use of anything but Italian-made ingredients, and calls for Unesco to include it on its list of "intangible heritage," for items like food, songs and other aforementioned intangibles, unlike the traditional World Heritage-dubbed sites including castles and other landmarks.
When asked how this might affect other Neapolitan pizza makers worldwide, Unesco spokeswoman Lucia Iglesias said in an email this morning, "The representative list on intangible cultural heritage cannot and does not recognize products," she said. Instead, she said it represents the "practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, skills — as well as the instruments, objects, artifacts and cultural spaces associated therewith — that communities, groups and, in some cases, individuals, recognize as part of their cultural heritage." ...
"For this reason, there is nothing about what can or cannot be used (in the preparation of anything on the list). ... That nomination is about the 'Arte of Neapolitan Pizzaiolo' and not about the products they prepare."