This is kind of a big deal. For the past 30+ years, Neapolitans have been fighting to save the good name of their signature dish. Before Naples, “pizza” was just a generic word for all bread products. The act of opening a dough and topping it before baking may not have been invented in Naples, but they certainly made it their own and made it a focus of their culture. Most of the pizza eaten today is a version of the Neapolitan original. It is for this reason that Neapolitans have fought to protect the original version, first creating independent organizations like the AVPN (Association of True Neapolitan Pizza) and the APN (Association of Neapolitan Pizza Makers), then attaining STG status (Traditional Specialty Guarantee) from the European Union, and now UNESCO cultural heritage certification.
As of yesterday, the trade of pizzaiolo was added to a list of UNESCO designation that includes ancient architecture, tombs, monuments, and parks. The art of pizza making is now officially included in UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. According to UNESCO, the art of pizzaiolo is more than just throwing ingredients together and baking them in a hot oven; there’s a social component that really amplifies the true root of what draws us all to this food in the first place. It’s about uniting people, not creating divisions.
This is a really cool step towards recovering from the fast-foodification pizza experienced since it became popular over the past century. The pendulum has swung back to its origin and the original sensibilities of pizza have now become revered. UNESCO didn’t decide that, they merely made it official.