UNESCO Names Neapolitan Pizza a Cultural Heritage

08 December, 2017

This week, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, or UNESCO announced new members to its list of the "Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity."

The 12 new members included Neapolitan pizza-making, among others.

"Congratulations #Italy!" UNESCO said in a tweet after a meeting in Jeju, South Korea.

Italy argued the practice of the "pizzaiuolo" was part of the country's cultural tradition. "Pizzaiuolo" relates to preparing and baking pizza in a wood-fired oven.

In Rome, pizzeria owner Roman Fiore celebrated the decision. "I am honored, like all Italians and Neapolitans are ... pizza has centuries of history," he said.

Members of the Pizzaioli Acrobats Coldiretti perform
Members of the Pizzaioli Acrobats Coldiretti perform "twirling" pizza to celebrate the Unesco decision to make the art of Neapolitan "Pizzaiuolo" an "intangible heritage" in Naples. (AFP PHOTO / Tiziana FABI)

Neapolitan pizza has a thin crust. The edge of the crust, when baked, grows larger. It looks like a bicycle tire.

Perhaps the most famous kind of Neapolitan pizza is called the Margherita. It has tomato, mozzarella, oil, and basil. These ingredients give the pizza red, white, and green colors – the colors of the Italian flag.

According to tradition, a local chef created the Margherita in 1889 to honor Queen Margherita. She was visiting Naples, south of Rome on Italy's coast.

Some Italians do not like how foreigners have made changes to the traditional pizza. Before UNESCO's announcement, Matteo Martino, a customer at Fiore's pizzeria, said "I think, and I hope, that this could be the chance to make foreigners understand how pizza is made, without Nutella or pineapple."

In its list of cultural heritage, UNESCO also accepted Chogan, an Iranian horse riding game, and Nsima, a cooking tradition from Malawi.

The existing UNESCO list already includes Turkish coffee culture and tradition, Croatian gingerbread-crafting, and Georgian wine-making.

I'm John Russell.

John Russell adapted this story for Learning English based on Reuters news report. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

intangible – adj. not made of physical substance : not able to be touched : not tangible

wood-fired oven – n. a piece of cooking equipment that is used for baking or roasting food. It uses wood to fuel the fire.

crust – n. the bread that is used to make a pizza

Nutellan. a brand of sweet cocoa spread

pineapple – n. a large fruit that grows on a tropical tree and that has thick skin and very sweet, juicy, yellow flesh

gingerbread – n. a cake or cookie made with molasses and ginger — often used before another noun