It’s no secret that Italians take their food seriously… or that Southern Italians are willing to strike and protest for causes that move them.
With fuel prices soaring, commodity prices for flour and salt have shot up as well—driving up the cost of every dish of pasta and every slice at the corner pizzeria. But thin-crust Margheritas
were always intended as food of the people: ubiquitous and affordable. So what’s a Neapolitan pizzaiolo
to do? Protest. Oh, and give away pizza.
According to Laura Viggiano at Reuters
, a recent rally in Naples’s Piazza Dante brought together pizza chefs to give away wood-fired pizzas to thousands of hungry—er, passionate protesters. The rationale? Some pizzerias have followed rising commodity costs in letting their prices keep pace with rampant inflation. Meanwhile, many of the country’s largest producers of staple foods have allowed their own prices to soar, which the Agriculture Minister attributes to speculation on the part of five major companies, whose products dominate 80 percent of the market.
Between higher-priced staples and a trend towards pricier prepared foods, a plain slice can now sell for 4 euro (over 5 dollars), with others climbing much higher. But the Association of Neapolitan Pizza Cooks maintains that pizza should remain affordable, calling for a 3.50 euro cap—yes, a formally regulated price fix—keeping slices within reach for everyone.
In solidarity for a pizza price freeze, over thirty pizzaioli
lit up wood-burning ovens last week to dish out free pizza Margherita
—not only to win the crowds through their stomachs, but, as Viggiano notes, to revive the Neapolitan reputation for food that’s high in quality, not in cost.
This isn’t the first time Italians have taken up arms over their cherished foodstuffs; last September saw a one-day nationwide pasta strike
, after prices rose by nearly 20%.
We all lament the ever-higher costs of staples and their potential effect on the food we purchase, eat, and sell. But are price caps and protests the answer? One thing’s for sure—free pizza never hurts.