If you didn't think the sanctity of Italy's most beloved export, the universally consumed pizza, was thrown into question when St. Louis started cutting it into squares or Little Caesars started offering whole pies for a paltry $5 (both of which began eons ago), maybe you were more convinced when Pizza Hut started stuffing their crusts with hot dogs and KFC said "fuck it all" and released the Chizza, a fried chicken base made into some sort of theoretical tomato- and mozzar-ellish thing. And let's not even get started on all of the Frankensteinian bastardizations floating around on Pinterest that are a very, very far cry from buffalo mozzarella and San Marzano tomatoes.
If you think all of this might just be a little bit uncouth or at least untraditional, think of how an Italian pizza-makers association (Associazione Maestri d'Arte Ristoratori e Pizzaioli, or AMAR) feels. That's what they want you to do, anyway.
According to Italian news site The Local, AMAR has been feverishly imploring the Italian government to start regulating pizza-making, to the extent that the chefs would have to take a special, extensive course to receive a license to prepare the stuff.
The government has been rolling its eyes at the whole thing for a few years (after all, what would happen to all of the restaurants and cooks who are already making and selling pizza?), which has recently led the association to threaten to take their "proposals" to other European countries in hopes of having them enforced there. In the past, draft legislation has appeared in the Italian parliament but never been passed.
According to the draft bill, "The preparation of pizza is an art that has been handed down over centuries. Italy is responsible for ensuring the quality of its traditional foods and should institute a roster of pizza makers through a European pizza-makers license."
AMAR's president, Enzo Prete, hopes that Italy will fear the wood-burning fire under its ass if AMAR is able to get the proposal approved in other countries. Prete tells The Local: "We're already in discussions with a country but I can't say which one for reasons of privacy."
So what would the license, entail anyway? Apparently, a 120-hour course, at minimum, which would include 70 hours of pizza preparation, 20 hours of food science studies, 20 hours of hygiene and food safety classes, and 20 hours of studying foreign languages.
"It's in the interest of the consumer too: I don't want to eat a pizza made by someone who doesn't know what they are doing," Prete says. Well, friend, you would probably not like the Chizza.
The upside to the regulation would be that you could grab an "authentic" slice of Margherita in other areas of the EU and rest assured that it was made to the specs of perfectionist Italians. But enforcing the usage of this type of license, in Italy or elsewhere, wouldn't exactly be a piece of cake (or pie). And existing pizza-makers will undoubtedly be pissed to find that they're suddenly forced to take a laborious and time-consuming course to relearn how to make something they've been preparing and selling for years or decades.
Then, of course, there are the fervent purists in the US and elsewhere who are already dropping Ferrari-worthy dollar amounts on special ovens made with imported Neapolitan bricks. They might be none too pleased to find that their scholarly and hilariously expensive attempts at achieving pizza perfection have ultimately been in vain compared to the hundreds of hours in classes they'd really have to dedicate to nailing the perfect crust crispiness … but then again, it sounds like they're into that kind of culinary prostration.
Then there's that whole caveat that their efforts at flawlessly replicating the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza may ultimately in vain, due to the recent historical revelation that pizza may have actually been conceived in Gaeta.
Hey, nobody's perfect. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go grab a dollar slice and douse it in sriracha.