The Neapolitan pizza is a free and democratic art

by Enzo Coccia

UNESCO has defined the art of this profession but, this time, I’d like to talk about freedom and democracy in relation to the Neapolitan pizza. “Freedom and democracy” may seem like a political slogan used by a party that comes from another, little bigger one, which wants to convey some important values with only two words.

Let me explain why the Neapolitan pizza is free, free from formalisms and morals, rules and impositions. There is no dress code to access the pizzeria, the service is carried out neither by a busboy nor by a waiter, and not even by a serious and stait-laced maître; there are no frills or lyric poems to describe a Neapolitan pizza in the menu.

It is put on the menu with its “sisters” in a direct, simple and concrete way and it surely doesn’t need any roundabout expressions to be introduced. Anything a pizzeria menu proposes is communicated with truth and authenticity.

The freedom to change the recipe as someone wishes is unthinkable in any tavern, trattoria or restaurant. A simple margherita can be well cooked or undercooked, with extra cheese or without it, etc… and it has a lot of variations according to the customer’s taste and his deep pleasure. This is a form of freedom that, even if minimal in our daily life, is also something pleasing and desired.

The freedom to share a sliced pizza with other people that sit at the same table in a convivial way or the freedom of a tasting menu to be shared between two or more people; the freedom of the single dish that satisfies or satiates you, depending on the verb we want to use; the freedom of the definite cost of the bill in the pizzeria and the freedom to conceive this dish as a take-away food which is unique for its history and tradition.

Over the centuries, food has been a sign of identity for the social classes, a symbol of economic power, it increased the quality and cost compared to the wallet. I love to call it the social scale of the dish. But, pizza is democratic because it is for everyone in the world and it is accessible with excellent quality; it is for all ages, from a 1-year-old child to a 99-year-old grandfather. As a famous advertisement says “what world would this be without the Neapolitan pizza?”.