• Italy's news in English
 
app_header_v3

UN 'should honour US as home of pizza'

The Local · 1 Apr 2015, 12:00

Published: 01 Apr 2015 00:01 GMT+02:00
Updated: 01 Apr 2015 12:00 GMT+02:00

It's midday in Italy and custom dictates that we now reveal our chicanery, skulduggery and general tomfoolery.

As many readers no doubt have guessed, the below article has very little basis in fact.

Naples has long fought to protect its signature pizza, even managing to clamp down on the thousands of pizzerias across Italy that once dared to tamper with the traditional recipe, said to date back to the 1700s, by adding spurious cheese and flour ingredients from distant lands.

But the city is now up against a far bigger battle after passions were stoked in the US last week when Italy announced that it has chosen the Neapolitan pizza as its candidate for protection under Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List.

Pizza makers in the US, where three billion pizzas are sold each year, say the true home of the Neapolitan is their homeland, and are demanding a slice of the action.

Some even claim to have made the Neapolitan better.

“I know the Italians won’t like hearing this, but when the Neapolitan first arrived here, it didn’t really tickle our taste buds,” said Joe Sfincione, a pizzeria owner from Naples, Florida, whose great-great grandfather hailed from Sicily.

“The crust was way too thin and the pizza itself way too small. There was also hardly any cheese, and as for the oregano and basil…we really had to work hard to make it more appealing to Americans. And like most American versions of anything European, we've made it ten times better.”

Italy, also the land of the capricciosa, wants to pay tribute to “the art of the Neapolitan pizza makers”.

According to the traditional recipe, the base should be no more than about an eighth of an inch, while the maximum diameter is 11 inches. In comparison, a pizza made in the US often measures 18 inches.

The dough must also be rolled out manually, a process Sfincione finds “way too time consuming in the era of fast-food”, and baked in a stone oven with an oak-wood fire for between 60 and 90 seconds, so as to raise the crust and give it its golden and crispy texture.

The rules, laid down to protect one of Italy’s most important gastronomic traditions, also stipulate what type of flour, tomatoes and olive oil must be used.

“I tried using fresh tomatoes at the beginning, but they really didn’t go down well, people wanted pineapple instead," added Sfincione.

Sfincione, along with hundreds of other pizza makers, are now calling on food authorities to set up a special commission to help protect their version of the Neapolitan.

He says the fact that Americans now eat double the amount of pizza per person per year than Italians, according to the latest statistics, will add weight to their battle. 

"Italy needs to accept that its time as the king of pizza is over," he adds.

Story continues below…

Needless to say, the culinary claims from the US have made Italians fume.

The most famous of the three real Neapolitan pizza variants is the Margherita, said to be named after Queen Margherita of Savoy after she asked a Naples pizza maker to come up with a dish for the people.

The result, which included green basil, white mozzarella and red tomatoes, is said to have represented the colours of a unified Italy.

“Queen Margherita would be turning in her grave if she heard this,” said a source from a Naples-based pizza school.

"The Neapolitan is from Naples, and that is that. The Americans can keep their pizza with pineapple."

For more news from Italy, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.it)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Euro 2016
Italy dump Spain out of Euro 2016 with 2-0 win
Graziano Pelle scored the second goal. Photo: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP

Giorgio Chiellini and Graziano Pelle scored the goals as Italy exacted revenge for their Euro 2012 final hammering by dumping Spain out of Euro 2016 with a deserved 2-0 last 16 win in Paris on Monday.

British business owners in Italy feel Brexit jitters
Photos: AFP

British business owners in Italy are rightly feeling jittery over Brexit.

Unseen papers of Mussolini's last meeting go to auction
Papers revealing the minuites of Mussolini's last meeting are set to go under the hammer in Italy. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The never-before-seen papers are expected to fetch upwards of €25,000.

Brexit
EU must act quickly due to 'gravity' of Brexit: Renzi
Italian prime Minister, Matteo Renzi, has called on the EU to act swiftly following the UK's vote to leave the EU. Photo: Andreas Solaro/AFP

"The last thing Europe needs is to start a year-long discussion on (the negotiation) procedures."

Ancient Roman fugitives' bones found in Pompeii shop
The four skeletons died in AD 79. Photo: Archaeological site of Pompeii

The skeletons belong to ancient Romans who died while fleeing the volcanic eruption which destroyed the city.

Brexit
Italy: Heed Brexit wake-up call and end austerity
Premier Matteo Renzi said his demand for greater flexibility on the bloc's budget rules had been made more urgent. Photo: Thierry Charler/AFP

"Austerity policies are clouding the horizon. They have turned the future into a threat. They have given fear a push."

Refugee crisis
More than 3,300 migrants rescued off Libya
Over 10,000 migrants have been rescued since Thursday. Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP

More than 10,000 migrants have been saved since Thursday.

Milan-bound flight catches fire upon emergency landing
The Singapore Airlines aircraft, its starboard wing charred from an engine fire, is towed across the tarmac at Changi airport. Photo: Roslan Rahman/AFP

A Singapore Airlines plane caught fire on Monday while making an emergency landing at Changi Airport after turning back from a flight to Milan following an engine oil warning message, the carrier said.

Italy hails mafia killer's arrest as historic
Fazzalari was convicted in absentia in 1999 of mafia association, kidnapping, illegal possession of weapons and a double homicide. Photo: Italian police

A convicted killer who was one of Italy's most wanted mafia bosses was arrested Sunday in an operation hailed by prosecutors as a historic breakthrough in the fight against organised crime.

Pope visits Armenian genocide memorial
Francis laid a wreath and prayed at the Tsitsernakaberd site. Photo: AFP

Pope Francis on Saturday issued a rallying cry to protect memory at the Armenian genocide memorial in Yerevan, on day two of a trip likely to stir tensions with Turkey.

Sponsored Article
Why Swiss hospitality graduates are in demand
Politics
Has the time come for Italy’s Five Star Movement to shine?
Sponsored Article
Education abroad: How to find an international school
Society
Why Italy must change after young woman’s brutal murder
Politics
Is Italy's Five Star up to the challenge of running Rome?
Sponsored Article
Why you should attend an international job fair
Culture
Six of the most bizarre Italian foods everyone should try
Culture
Italian restaurant crowned the best in the world
Travel
Ten breathtaking Italian gems you've never heard of
National
Eritrean held in Italy denies being trafficking kingpin
Sponsored Article
Avoid hidden fees when sending money overseas
Health
Italian man 'turns French' after brain injury
Travel
Six reasons why South Tyrol will absolutely blow your mind
National
Why Italy's facing another tough summer
Photo: Alberto Pizzoli/AFP
Politics
Five reasons Rome's mayoral elections actually matter
Travel
Ten Airbnb apartments where you'll feel at home in Rome
Politics
Quiz: Silvio Berlusconi versus Donald Trump - who said it?
National
Crew who sunk with WWII sub 'wanted to be found': relative
Culture
Why the average ancient Roman worker was dead by 30
Did a Nazi official save Ponte Vecchio from destruction?
National
How the brutal murder of an anti-mafia hero altered Sicily
Travel
These are the best beaches within easy reach of Rome
National
Why Italians are falling out of love with the EU
Business & Money
Foreign, female and a self-made success in arduous Italy
2,526
jobs available