Pizza, a Cultural Heritage

Neapolitan pizza aims to make UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage List this year.

This article, written by Asif Khan, appears on Inquisitir.


Can you eat cultural heritage? Are you allowed to digest it?

That will be a real, guilt-free possibility if Italy’s nomination of its Neapolitan pizza as a candidate for UNESCO’s Cultural Heritage List is accepted next year.

On Friday, Italy’s national commission for UNESCO unanimously confirmed the Neapolitan pizza’s candidacy for the cultural heritage list, deeming it as a “central element of Neapolitan and Italian identity, and a symbol of the brand of Italy around the world,” according to a report in The Guardian.

The candidacy of the Neapolitan pizza — pizza from the city of Naples — was backed by a petition with more than 850,000 signatures from Italy and around the world.

Once the nomination is placed with UNESCO officially, it will take another year for the decision-making process to run its course, with 200 countries having a say in the matter. The final list will be out sometime in 2017, and only then will we know if the pizza campaign (hashtagged as #PizzaUnesco) has been successful or not.

For a layperson, it would be a bit confounding to think of a food item as cultural heritage. Usually, the first things that come to one’s mind when “cultural heritage” is mentioned are the monuments or touristy places. What people generally don’t know is that there is a separate UNESCO list for culturally important things that may not be as “tangible” as a monument but no less important. This list is called “Intangible Cultural Heritage” list. Italy wants its pizza to be on this list.

This is how UNESCO describes Intangible Cultural Heritage.

“Cultural heritage does not end at monuments and collections of objects. It also includes traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants, such as oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, festive events, knowledge and practices concerning nature and the universe or the knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts. While fragile, intangible cultural heritage is an important factor in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of growing globalisation.”

If the pizza is accepted by UNESCO, it will find a place in the Intangible Cultural Heritage list for 2017 and will be listed as “The Traditional Art of Neapolitan Pizza Makers.”

The Neapolitan pizza makers take their pizza very seriously. There is even an association of pizza makers called True Neapolitan Pizza Association, a “non-profit organisation” whose mission is to “promote and protect in Italy and worldwide the true Neapolitan pizza.” The association has very strict regulations as to what is and what is not a “true” Neapolitan pizza. Read more on Inquisitr…

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