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EU honours Neapolitan ‘mother of all pizzas’

Rome — Italy on Wednesday hailed the European Union’s decision to award the Neapolitan pizza — arguably the mother of all pizzas — its coveted "traditional speciality guaranteed" (TSG) label.

"Europe has crowned the work and tenacity of Neapolitan producers," Agriculture Minister Luca Zaia said in a statement, lauding a product which "for too long has been the subject of imitations which have nothing to do with the real and unique Neapolitan pizza."

For a product to earn the TSG label, created in 1992, it "does not have to be manufactured in a specific geographically delimited area; it is sufficient that it be traditional and different from other similar products."

Neapolitan pizza is characterised by its raised crust rendered golden by oven cooking, by the crispy yet tender consistency of its pastry, and by its acid tomato taste, along with aromas of oregano, garlic, basil and mozzarella.

The role of the pizza maker, or pizzaiolo, and the wood-fire oven are also determining characteristics of the Neapolitan pizza.

The base should be no more than 3 millimetres (about an eighth of an inch) thick and cooked for between 60 and 90 seconds in a stone oven with an oak-wood fire.

The Neapolitan pizza was invented in the southern Italian city between 1715 and 1725, with the world-famous Margherita variant first cooked up in 1889.

Tradition has it that queen Margherita of Savoy asked one of Naples’ famed pizzaiole to come up with a dish for the people.

The result, which provides the basis for most pizzas enjoyed around the world, represented the colours of recently unified Italy: green basil, white mozzarella and red tomatoes.

Italy’s estimated 25,000 pizzerias employ around 150,000 people and account for a turnover of 5.3 billion euros.