Pizza twirling earns Unesco heritage sta­tus

The Herald (South Africa) - - WORLD - Hwang Sunghee

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.

Pic­ture: AFP PHOTO/ TIZIANA FABI

‘INTANGIBLY’ ITAL­IAN: Mem­bers of the Piz­zaioli Ac­ro­bats Coldiretti per­form ‘twirling’ pizza

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