Italy set to seek UNESCO protection for favorite pizza pie

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Now that's amore. After voting the Neapolitan pizza as one of the most representative dishes of the country, Italy is poised to seek UNESCO protection for this favorite cheesy pie.

Despite being narrowly beaten by pasta and tomato sauce as the country's most emblematic dish in public opinion polls, the traditional pizza from Naples is being touted as one of the best candidates for UNESCO protection, according to The Guardian .

The Intangible Heritage List is an archive of monuments, objects, and cultural traditions deemed in need of urgent safeguarding.

Violin-making in Cremona is also tapped as another strong contender from Italy.

The deadline for UNESCO submissions is March 31.

Last year, the Mediterranean diet was admitted for being a nutritional model that has remained constant over time and for promoting social interaction, social customs and festivities. The diet is based on olive oil, cereals, fresh or dried fruit and vegetables, and a moderate amount of fish, dairy and meat.

The move for UNESCO status would mark another step in preserving the Neapolitan pizza as an important Italian food heritage. In 2009, locals in Naples successfully lobbied to obtain certification status on their pizzas from the European Union.

The Traditional Specialty Guaranteed label means that all pizzerias claiming to serve authentic Neapolitan pizzas must cook it a certain way. For example, only San Marzano tomatoes and buffalo Mozzarella are permissible. Pizzas must also have a raised crust, can be no thicker than an eighth of an inch, and the dough must be hand-stretched before being cooked in a wood-fired oven.

The True Neapolitan Pizza Association also makes it their mission to protect the local dish and has drafted a set of strict rules on what constitutes an authentic pizza from Naples. The end product, they say, should be soft, elastic and easy to fold, while the toppings like the tomato sauce, oregano, garlic, and mozzarella should be perfectly and evenly amalgamated.

Pizza-makers had long complained that 'imposter' pizzas were being made from imported ingredients like Chinese tomatoes and Spanish olive oil.

Other food-related admissions in the 2010 Intangible Heritage List included the French gastronomic meal and traditional Mexican cuisine.