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Italy Wants the UN to Recognize Its Pizza as a "Cultural Heritage"

The Italian government is submitting Neapolitan pizza to this year’s UNESCO cultural heritage list, attempting to distinguish it once and for all from Domino’s’ Frankenpizza creations.
Phoebe Hurst
London, GB

Italy is pretty protective over it's native food and drink—understandable when America insists on referring to phony cheese as "Parmesan" and Brits are serving Prosecco out of kegs. When will the world learn not to interfere with what Nonna made?

That double-stuffed cheeseburger crust may have been the straw that broke the cammello's back. The Italian government has announced that it will be submitting the art of Neapolitan pizza-making to this year's United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) cultural heritage list, a commendation designed to protect and raise awareness of cultural practices. The list already includes French cuisine and washoku, the traditional cuisine of Japan—both officially declared a "world intangible heritage."

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Nice one, Pizza Hut.

READ MORE: Neapolitan Pizza Chefs Think Pizza-Spinning Is Tacky

As The Guardian reports, UNESCO has already confirmed the candidacy of the Neapolitan pizza-making process, which requires a specific wheat flour recipe and kneading technique. The proposal has also been backed by a petition of more than 850,000 signatures from the dish's native Naples, as well as countries across the world.

The UNESCO proposal argues that this style of pizza-making is central to Neapolitan and Italian identity, as well as adding £8 billion to the country's economy. Italian pizza protectionists also want the strictly 3 millimetre-thick pizza—topped with only marinara or Margherita—to be officially distinguished from more cheesy New York-style pies, or whatever Domino's next Frankenpizza creation is.

READ MORE: Very Serious Italians Want All Pizza Makers to Be Licensed

It's not the first time Italy has called on higher powers to protect its traditional dishes. Last month, Italian MEP Nicola Danti implored EU regulators to ban "Italian-sounding" names given to frozen pizzas and ready-meal risottos produced in foreign countries, and an Italian pizza-makers association has urged the government to regulate the industry by making all wannabe pizza chefs to apply for a license before preparing the stuff.

A dossier making the case for Neapolitan pizza will now be submitted to UNESCO and discussed by over 200 countries. Naples' pizza-makers will find out if their dish has made the cut next year.

In the meantime, it might be best not to mention "Italian" poutine.