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Pizza is saved from possible extinction with UNESCO World Heritage designation


Glen MacLarty | CC BY 2.0

Zelda Caldwell - published on 12/11/17

Imagine a world without real Neapolitan pizza!

The United Nations cultural agency, UNESCO, bestowed World Heritage status on pizza, ensuring that the famous food of Naples will be passed on to future generations.

Pix Click | CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

Recognized as an “intangible cultural heritage” as opposed to a tangible one (like buildings, monuments, books), Neapolitan pizza joins a roster of 470 intangible cultural practices from 117 countries marked for preservation.

This year, UNESCO, added 33 practices to the list, including multipart singing of Horehronie (Slovakia), windmill and watermill making (Netherlands), boatbuilding in South Sulawesi (Indonesia), and female traditional interior wall decoration (Saudi Arabia).

Naples baker Raffaele Esposito is credited with inventing the Margherita pizza, which is the classic Neapolitan style pizza. Esposito is said to have baked a pizza bearing the colors of the Italian flag (red tomatoes, white mozarella, and green basil leaves) in honor of King Umberto I and Queen Margherita of Savoy upon their visit to Naples in 1889.

ElfQrin | CC BY-SA 3.0

Not that Neapolitan pizza-making was really in danger of fading away – at least not any time soon. Since 1984, the Associazion Verace Pizza Napoletana (VPN), has set itself up as the international pizza cop, offering coveted certification as VPN pizza parlors to restaurants who follow its requirements (and pay a hefty fee).

Among the requirements, a certified VPN-pizza is made of a dough consisting of Italian type 0 or 00 wheat flour. It must be hand-formed, made with raw San Marzano tomatoes from Italy and buffalo mozzarella cheese, and it must be cooked in an oven with a wood fire.


Click here for a list of VPN-certified pizza makers in North America and Central America.

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