Pizza twirling earns Unesco heritage status
NAPLES’ pizza twirling joined Unesco’s list of “intangible heritage” yesterday, securing the coveted status alongside a host of cultural treasures.
The art of “pizzaiuolo” – which has been handed down for generations in the southern Italian city – was given the nod by the UN cultural body’s World Heritage Committee, meeting on the South Korean island of Jeju.
It comes after some two million people signed a petition to support Naples’ application, according to Association of Neapolitan Pizzaiuoli head Sergio Miccu – no doubt buoyed by his offer of complimentary pizza if the age-old culinary tradition joined the prestigious list.
“We’ll be giving out free pizza in the streets,” Miccu said earlier.
The custom goes far beyond the pizzaiuolo’s spectacular handling of the dough – hurling it into the air to oxygenate it – to include songs and stories that have turned pizza-making into a time-honoured social ritual.
“Victory!” Italy’s Agriculture, Food and Forestry Minister Maurizio Martina, wrote on Twitter. “Another step towards the protection of Italy’s food and wine heritage.”
The pizza’s humble ancestor, a plain affair usually tarted up with a bit of lard, initially emerged as a cheap, easy and fast way to feed the city’s army of poor, historian Antonio Mattozzi said.
But despite being an immediate hit with the locals, pizza failed to take off outside the city at first.
It took Queen Margherita’s love of the classic tomato, mozzarella and basil version to fire up the imagination and tastebuds of diners far and wide.
Hoping to win the hearts of commoners, the Italian queen asked in 1889 to try their favourite dish.
While she was unconvinced by anchovy and Parmesan-topped versions, the basil delight won her over, according to Mattozzi.
‘INTANGIBLY’ ITALIAN: Members of the Pizzaioli Acrobats Coldiretti perform ‘twirling’ pizza