The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Watch your Margherita, pizza police ahead

Rome, May 26 (Reuters): It may be too early to talk about pizza police, but Italian legislators are mulling a detailed draft law laying down rules to protect real Neapolitan pizza.

The draft law to separate pure pizza from the putative kind — all three pages, eight articles and six sub-clauses of it — was published under the state seal in the Official Gazzette yesterday.

It decrees that a Neapolitan pizza must be round and no more than 35 centimetres in diameter. The centre should not be higher than 0.3 cm and the crust cannot rise over two centimetres.

The law specifies what kind of flour, salt, yeast and tomatoes have to be used. The sub-clauses go even further.

Margherita, the classic type, must be topped not with just any type of mozzarella but mozzarella “from the southern Appenine” mountains.

And restaurateurs beware, you can’t call a pizza a “Margherita extra” unless it is topped with mozzarella made from buffalo milk — a southern Italian speciality.

Rolling pins are blasphemous and dough machines are heretical. The law says the dough must be kneaded by hand.

Take a whiff of this phrase from a government document that usually offers the latest on tax brackets and bilateral trade: “On the whole, the pizza must be soft, elastic and easily foldable in half to form a ‘libretto’.”

If made to specifications, restaurants can label their pizzas STG, or Guaranteed Traditional Speciality.

Neapolitan pizza makers convinced the agriculture ministry to work up the law to protect their craft from bogus copies.

The law, which can be modified ahead of becoming effective, makes provisions for“controls” on restaurants but gives no details.

In a front-page story today, Italy’s leading financial daily, Il Sole 24 Ore, gave it a half-baked review.

“It’s useless to close the stable door now that the horse has bolted,” the paper said, noting that people and restaurants the world over were making pizza any way they wanted.

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