This March, Italy proposed their famous Neapolitan pizza as a candidate to be included on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity for 2017.
As it stands today, in order to be recognized as authentic Neapolitan pizza, restaurants and pizza makers must be certified by the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana. A very specific set of guidelines must be followed that include dough made from Neapolitan yeast, hand kneading the dough, pizza sauce made from San Marzano tomatoes, only a few specific toppings, temperature at which the pizza must be cooked as well as the type of wood-fired oven it is cooked in.
What will making the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity do for Neapolitan pizza? According to UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage “refers to the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge and skills transmitted by communities from generation to generation.” Adding the Neapolitan pizza to this cultural heritage list would be acknowledging and preserving this age-old Italian tradition and distinguish it from other pizza varieties such as the Chicago deep-dish and New York style pizzas.
Who is UNESCO and what do they do? The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, also known as UNESCO, was created in 1945 to build networks among nations in a world torn apart by two world wars. UNESCO believes that culture is an incredibly important aspect of our world in that it has the power to transform societies and enrich the lives of individuals, and this even includes culinary traditions from nations all over the world. Food and beverages already recognized by UNESCO include Turkish coffee, Armenian lavash bread, gingerbread from Croatia, and Korean kimchi.
So, when will we find out whether the Neapolitan pizza made the list? UNESCO unanimously approved the Neapolitan pizza for candidacy for heritage status; however, an official decision will not be made until next year. If UNESCO accepts, it will appear on the list as “The Traditional Art of Neapolitan Pizza Makers.” We have our fingers crossed!