It was December 7th, 2017 when “The Traditional Art of Neapolitan Pizzaiuolo” became part of UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage, as a craft whose strength is such that it is able, alone, to represent the identity, history and continuity of an entire country. The Art of Pizzaiuolo is the eighth recognition in the list of Intangible Heritage of UNESCO, the third national – preceded by the Mediterranean Diet and the Vine tree of Pantelleria.
This achievement has consolidated not only the role of pizza as a cornerstone of Italian cuisine, but also as the most loved and consumed food in the world. However, it was precisely this growing popularity that defrauded Italy of its most important dish: pizza, for Italy so Italian, for the USA so typically American. Or rather, typically New Yorker. In fact, a good part of New York is really convinced that pizza is a local dish, defending it from foreign incursions such as the pizza from Chicago or the Californian one from the West Coast.
In the anniversary celebrations, the Google Doodle was also added. The search engine has dedicated to pizza an interactive game to learn how to cut it correctly into slices according to the type and seasoning. It starts with the classic pizza Margherita, and continues with Pizza Bianca topped with mushrooms and broccoli and the Spicy salami pizza. But it is by going on with the levels that the game becomes more and more difficult for an Italian lover of the real Made in Italy pizza: we find the typical phenomenon of Italian Sounding in the Calabresa and in the Muzzarella, but we also run into real novelties such as the Magyaros – the Greek pizza, the Paneer Tikka of Indian origin, the Tom Yam of Thai origin, which is inspired to the homonymous seafood and shellfish soup. There is also the most criticized one, the Hawaiian with ham and pineapple to which is added a worthy rival, the Sweet one with sprinkles and gummy bears.
In ITA0039 these celebrations take place every day. Proud to live in the Land of Pizza, it supports those who have decided to take – the original one – overseas, using 100% Made in Italy ingredients. It is an almost obligatory consequence for ITA039 to remain skeptical in front of today’s Doodle. The intent is apparently evident: to celebrate a dish loved so much that it has its own version in every country. Yet, the inclusion of Italian pizza in the UNESCO list has a diametrically opposite meaning: pizza represents a community, the Italian one, and with the world it wants to share its identity made of traditions, gestures, songs, smiles, skills, performance, meeting and conviviality: the Art of Neapolitan Pizzaiuolo is a culinary know-how transmitted through the generations until today.
The inclusion in this sort of protected category, which should have protected a centuries-old art, has instead led to the mistaken belief that in a list of Intangible Heritage, the inclusion has been attributed in favor of a material product, pizza. Too often – and Google has proved it today – it has been declared that pizza is a UNESCO Heritage.
In ITA0039 we always observe with a certain regret how pizza, which made its first appearance in the United States with the arrival of Italian immigrants in the late 19th century, has been, with the passing of time, distorted, incorporated by the host culture, which has made it a new and different dish from the original. It is therefore useless to repeat that American pizzas are too much: too rich, too greasy, too seasoned with ingredients chosen at random. More simply, they are not pizzas, just like Moussaka is not a Parmigiana.