Unesco pulled out the best pizza

The Art of the Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ is now an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Eight years of work and two million signatures

14-12-2017

Pay attention, it’s not Neapolitan pizza itself, but the Art of the Neapolitan Pizzaiuolo, something much more important, that has become an Intangible Cultural Heritage for Humanity, as stated on the website of the Ministry for Agricultural Policies which took care of the procedure. It is right to rejoice in the decision taken unanimously in Jeju in South Korea, where the Unesco summit took place.

The motivation given by the United Nations agency is beautiful: «the culinary knowledge connected with pizza making, which includes gestures, songs, visual expressions, local jargon, handling pizza dough, performing and sharing, is an unquestionable cultural heritage. Pizzaioli and their guests participate in a social rite, in which counter and oven act as "stage" during the production process of pizza. All this happens in a friendly atmosphere that leads to constant interaction with guests.

Starting from poor neighbourhoods in Naples, the culinary tradition became strongly rooted in the community’s daily life. For many young people in this profession, becoming a Pizzaiolo is also a way of avoiding social exclusion».

One should also admire the extensive work that led to this success, a journey that began in 2009, when Venetian Luca Zaia was the Minister for Agricultural Policies, and then continued thanks to professional Neapolitan associations and to Regione Campania, with professor Pier Luigi Petrillo coordinating the candidacy dossier and the delegation. If one had to choose one person, above all, there would be no doubt: Alfonso Pecoraro Scanio, born in Salerno, previous minister for agricultural policies from April 2000 to June 2001. It was little over a year but it was significant in order to understand the necessary political-lobbying mechanisms.

Alfonso Pecaoraro Scanio in Sydney in support of Neapolitan pizza

Alfonso Pecaoraro Scanio in Sydney in support of Neapolitan pizza

This was followed by two years, from May 2006 to May 2008, as minister of the environment, which were also important. The previous secretary of the environmental party, currently president at Univerde, reinvented himself once his political star had set. Of course, he didn’t collect two million signatures by himself, but nobody was as committed as him, while his followers included many people such as Francesca Marino and the Mysocialrecipe platform.

No other country has so many world heritages: 54. This does not include the Mediterranean Diet, as we share it with Morocco, Spain, Greece, Cyprus, Croatia and Portugal. For Naples it’s an encore, not a debut: in 1995 its historic centre entered the list. Twenty years later it’s the turn of its most famous dish in the word, so unique, unlike pasta, coffee and rice – just to mention other valuable Italian products - that it has no translation around the world. It’s always pizza. Then of course in many places they think they were the ones to invent it, like in Chicago and the United States, for instance.

Franco Pepe and Renato Bosco’s pizzas are the emblem dish in the 2018 edition of Identità Golose in March, next year, in Milan. A choice made regardless of Unesco’s acknowledgement because pizza means Italy, wherever a master pizzaiolo may be

Franco Pepe and Renato Bosco’s pizzas are the emblem dish in the 2018 edition of Identità Golose in March, next year, in Milan. A choice made regardless of Unesco’s acknowledgement because pizza means Italy, wherever a master pizzaiolo may be

This acknowledgement should contribute in making some clarity on the subject. It’s not about copyright, but about clarity and tradition-enhancement. With a hope: that the subject is covered with lots of intelligence and little folklore. For sure there’s lots of ingenuity in Naples, but unfortunately there’s lots of superstition and folklore too, two aspects that don’t help the flow and sharing of ideas. In local ovens, you’ll find shovels next to red horn-shaped pendants for good look. Many find it nice.

Let’s hope this award won’t become an excuse to crystallise the world of Neapolitan pizza. Interviewed by a Neapolitan journalist, when asked “now what is going to change, according to you?” Franco Pepe, who’s from Caiazzo, in Caserta, and is a broadminded person, replied with just one word: «Nothing». After all, in Naples, besides celebrations, Coccia and SorbilloAttilio (Pignasecca) and Salvo don’t need Unesco to be acknowledged as masters. Only mediocre people will use this success to steal a few clients and earn an extra appearance on TV.
Translated into English by Slawka G. Scarso


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