Rome celebrates Jubilee of pizza chefs
Descendants of the 19th-century Naples chef who created the Pizza Margherita in honor of King Umberto I's wife, were on hand with Pope John Paul II on Wednesday to celebrate the conclusion of the Jubilee of Pizza Chefs.
The chefs gave John Paul II an antique Neapolitan stove, a copper pizza carrier, and a decorated pizza cutter. A Mass was celebrated after the audience, followed by a pizza festival in Castel Sant'Angelo, where pizzas were offered to famished pilgrims.
Historian Mario Folliero, president of the Angelo Lezzi Italian Association of Pizzerias, defended the Neapolitan roots of the pizza. He pinpoints the advent of this food in the 18th century, in the homes of the poor, where mothers invented the pizza by using a bit of flour and natural yeast, adding leftovers like cheese, broccoli and sausage.
Walter Botrugno, of the National Association of Pizza Chefs and Restaurant Owners, announced the chefs' commitment to produce a gluten-free pizza, for those suffering from celiac disease.
"Pizza is bread that is often kneaded at home by those who cannot buy it in a shop; therefore, it is within everyone's reach," Mario Folliero explained. "In a word, it unites families."
Fr Giuseppe Gagliano described the spiritual message that the Jubilee of Pizza Chefs hopes to give mankind, beginning with pizza-shop clients. "We want to offer man, who is gripped by the frenetic rhythm of life and the desire for success, the occasion to stop for a moment and reflect," he said.