A Slice of History: Pizza Making Honored by the United Nations

Offbeat - SAL BONO

You can now say that the world is amore with pizza as the United Nations officially recognized that making the magical pies is a cultural art form.

Pizzaiuolo, the Italian word given to anyone who prepares pizza in the Neapolitan style, was honored Thursday by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in Naples, Italy.

Making the pies as they do in Naples is now part of the “intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.”

In Jeju, South Korea, UNESCO added Naples' pizza makers to their list of important figures. 

“Knowledge and skills related to the element are primarily transmitted in the 'bottega' of the Pizzaiuoli where young apprentices can observe their master at work,” UNESCO said in a statement.

The traditional round pizza originated in Naples with roots that trace back to the 1700s, according to historians.

Becoming a Pizzaiuolo involves being able to make the dough, twirl it in the air like a discus in order to get air into it, and of course, cooking one tasty pie. Naples reportedly has 3,000 Pizzaiuoli in the city. 

“Victory!” Italy’s minister for agriculture, food and forestry, Maurizio Martina, tweeted Thursday. “Another step towards the protection of Italy’s food and wine heritage.”

“The art of the Neapolitan pizza-maker contains Italian know-how... especially traditional knowledge that has been transmitted from generation to generation,” he said in a statement. 

In Naples, like most of Italy, they use traditional wood fire ovens which cook the mini pizzas, known as pizzetta, within minutes. 

The pizza makers relished in their new honor as they did what they do best, making Margherita-style pizza Thursday with fresh tomato sauce, mozzarella and basil before handing them out to the public for free. 

The official Twitter account for the city of Naples called the UNESCO achievement “a great recognition.” 

RELATED STORIES