Kiwi pizza supremo talks about the 'art that's almost been forgotten' as Neapolitan pizza making gets UN recognition

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The Neapolitan art of pizza making, known as "pizzaiuolo", has been accepted onto the UN's Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation [UNESCO] list after being handed down for generations of chefs in the southern Italian city of Naples.

UNESCO recognises pizza after 2 million sign petition - and Kiwi locals agree.
Source: 1 NEWS

A specific set of requirements must be met in order for a pizza to be considered of pizzaiuolo grade – including how the dough is prepared, the origin of ingredients and that it must be cooked in a wood-fired oven.

Around two million people had been part of a petition calling on the UN to recognise the culinary delight. Locals in Naples celebrated the UN's decision by handing out free pizzas in the street.

Aucklander Kevin Morris, who owns Dante's Pizzeria, is among only a handful of chefs in the Southern Hemisphere to earn the Associazione Verace Pizza Napoletana certification.

He told 1 NEWS there's nothing quite like Naples' famous dish.

"It's an art that's almost been forgotten. As far as I'm concerned, when you put out the best Neapolitan pizza possible, it's a Michelin-star dish. End of story."

Morris, who is half Italian, is thrilled to see the pizza recognised by UNESCO.

"The fast-food industry is slowly taking over. Food like pizza and pasta in Italy… it's teaching the new generation that this is real food. It's really important to keep that education going. So having the status is gold.

"When I came to New Zealand, pizza 22 years ago was a lot worse than it is today. It was shocking. I thought 'god, I've got to make a stand here!'"

All the ingredients he uses, bar the basil, are imported from Italy.

"You have to use a special flour from Southern Italy. We use caputo. Milled very slowly, so the grains aren't damaged and it can hydrate properly."

The flour is then rested for two days, then stretched out by hand – never a rolling pin.

And while the art of pizzaiuolo - twirling pizza dough - was an important element of Italy's bid to have the pizza recognised, Morris says it's not necessary.

"The acrobatics can undo the hard work of relaxing the gluten," he said.

"If you start throwing it around it can damage it. It looks cool, but it's not good for Neapolitan pizza.

"They do do it in Napoli, they do it worldwide. But if you want to do the best dish possible, it's not a process that's done."

And he had some choice words for those who use spaghetti or pineapple as pizza toppings.

"You know, what can I say? It's really offensive. Less is more!"

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