UNESCO are to consider whether the art of traditional Neapolitan pizza-making will make the cut for their Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list, which will put the distinctive culinary art on a world stage as well as help to set out guidelines for what makes an authentic Neapolitan or Italian pizza.
The candidacy was first proposed to Italy’s UNESCO commission by the government and, backed by over 850,000 signatures from around the world, was unanimously accepted, with the panel agreeing that pizza-making was a central element of both Neapolitan and Italian identity. This news means it just needs to be approved for the list by UNESCO itself. The global organisation will now assess a dossier which makes the case for the classic dish to be included, with hopes that pizza-making will be announced as a new addition to the cultural heritage list in Paris in 2017.
In case you were wondering what makes a Neapolitan pizza genuine, there are in fact two varieties which have been accepted by the Association of the Real Neapolitan Pizza: the first being marinara, a topping of tomato, olive oil, oregano and garlic, and the second being margherita, topped with tomato, mozzarella, olive oil, grated cheese and basil. There are also strict rules for how the dough should be made; it should consist of wheat flour, compressed biologically produced yeast, sea salt and water, and then kneaded only either by hand or with a low-speed mixer.
Should Neapolitan pizza-making make the cut, it will join a list of other well-known Italian traditions, including Sicilian puppet theatre, a treat for families staying at our villas in Sicily, and Sardinian pastoral singing (canto a tenore). Other cultural practices from around the world which also feature on the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity list include arts as varied as Romanian lad’s dancing, the Mongolian camel coaxing method and the epic art of Gorogly, practiced in Turkmenistan. Featuring on the list is also important for the preservation of practices, as protection is offered by the United Nations, though only those which “help demonstrate the diversity of heritage and raise awareness about its importance” are selected.