This weekend, the Italian city of Naples wants the world to know that it is the heart and soul of pizza. And to prove it, 100 chefs are teaming up for 11 hours to make the planet's longest pizza – 2 kilometers, to be exact.
"Pizza was born in Naples," says Alessandro Marinacci, who helped organize the smackdown with Caputo flour, "but the record was made in Milan." Last year, Milan's pizza clocked in at just over 1.5 kilometers.
According to popular tradition, in 1889 chef Raffaele Esposito created a pizza resembling the Italian flag: red (tomato), white (mozzarella) and green (basil). He named it after the queen, Margherita of Savoy, wife of King Umberto I. Italy is so protective of its cuisine that it has recently tried to add Naples pizza to Unesco's Intangible Cultural Heritage list, which identifies unique traditions, knowledge and skills passed down from one generation to the next.
On May 15, the rival pie will be baked Neapolitan style — made by only the hands of the pizzaiolo, no rolling pins or machinery allowed. It uses Caputo flour, which comes from an old mill in Naples that gathers grains from all over the world to create just the right dough. And it needs to be cooked in a wood-burning oven at about 900 degrees for about 90 seconds.
It's not easy to cook a 2-kilometer pizza in a wood oven.
"We have custom-designed five motorized wood-burning stoves on wheels," says Marinacci. "A team will drive the oven and the pizza will pass through the two mouths of the oven." The pizza gets baked as the cars drive across the pizza.
The finished pie will be a little over a foot wide, and contain more than two tons of Caputo flour, two tons of mozzarella, 1.5 tons of tomatoes, 200 liters of olive oil and 66 pounds of basil.
It's hard to say how long this record may hold, however. Last June, the small university town of Rende, Italy, set a new bar with a 1.2 kilometer pizza. That record was broken just one week later during Milan's Expo. If Naples succeeds, it will be the third record broken within a year.
If someone tries to topple this one, Naples will not be ignored.
"The record has to be in Naples," says Marinacci. "It's like Oktoberfest with beer in Munich. We want to identify the city of Naples as where pizza was born."
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