It’s time for the future of pizza

In Naples, discussing what to do after Unesco’s acknowledgement. Hopefully without jealousy and parochialism

14-12-2017

Associazione Verace Pizza napoletana, Associazione Pizzaiuoli Napoletani, Fondazione UniVerde and Coldiretti Campania met on Monday 11th December, in the headquarters of the former of the four, in Via Capodimonte in Naples, «to celebrate Unesco’s acknowledgement with local and national institutions. The meeting offered a chance to speak of the activities that can be developed in light of the acknowledgement and to understand future developments for the pizzaiolo profession».

The Art of the Neapolitan Pizzaiuolo is the Intangible Human Cultural Heritage and not pizza itself. This is essential and indeed the news, given pizza’s widespread popularity across the world, has had global resonance. It has also caused a confusion as big as the importance of Unesco’s decision.

It’s easy to get confused. Who hasn’t had pizza margherita in his life? Perhaps only North Koreans, in their isolation. But there are those in Naples who can only profit from the misunderstanding and, my immediate feeling, are doing little not to make everything clear.

It’s as if in Canale and Asti they transformed the acknowledgement given to the Wine landscape of Langhe-Roero and Monferrato into an international quality certificate for Barolo or Moscato. The same if mixing the tree-trained vines in Pantelleria with the wines made with Zibibbo grapes, which is something completely different.

I didn’t like the comments and statements in which Neapolitan parochialism is used to separate Naples and its masterpiece from the rest of Italy. Why are you celebrating if pizza belongs to us? It’s like they were all looking down without realising that Naples should be honoured that Italians were celebrating. It’s a beautiful demonstration of respect for Neapolitan ingenuity. And a chance to understand that pizza, the dish, for years now has belonged to the world, and not just one city.

I believe Salvatore Salvo posted the best statement on Facebook. Together with his brother Francesco, he runs the beautiful pizzeria in San Giorgio a Cremano, a town bordering with Naples. It was posted on the 7th of December, dinner time, on the same day when Unesco made its announcement at dawn: «What has changed now? Nothing in fact! Even though I was woken up at 7 by the roaring news of the Unesco acknowledgement, today I wore my jacket and apron and went to work, like this evening».

«The art of Neapolitan pizzaioli as a world heritage is an acknowledgement that officially does justice to those who, like our father, used to be called PIZZAJUÓ almost in an offensive way».

Pizza Margherita, the most famous pizza in the world, in a photo by Valerio Capello on Wikipedia

Pizza Margherita, the most famous pizza in the world, in a photo by Valerio Capello on Wikipedia

«It does justice to the many young men who entered this humble profession out of necessity. It’s yet one more opportunity for Naples, in the hope that the city, and not just the pizzaioli, can make use of it».

«I’m surprised by the excessive almost folkloristic celebrations, but it’s okay if it leads to a sense of responsibility for the advantage of the pizza industry, its growth in terms of revenue and quality, and as a further opportunity to relaunch our city».

I also think the words of PD secretary Matteo Renzi were nice and well-focused, because they go beyond the decision itself, which is something rare for a politician: «The fact Unesco acknowledged the art of the Neapolitan pizzaiolo as a world heritage is a beautiful emblem of Italy’s past. It’s also the emblem of what we should be. Taking care of tradition, being passionate about food, capable of having products that can represent us abroad are essential elements of our future».

«We’re moving towards a future of robots and technological innovation: this is why roots, identity, quality, taste should be more and more important. The largest pizza chains in the world are not Italian, and even most products sold around the world and bearing Italian sounding names are not Italian. In other words: in the globalised world, Made in Italy – food included – faces many opportunities. The acknowledgement given to pizza makes us proud for our tradition but is also an input for the future. Let’s proceed». Indeed, let’s proceed, possibly joining forces. At least for the wellbeing of pizza and Italian cuisine.


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