Italian Pizza in 3 minutes

Italian pizza chefs may be soon facing some serious competition with the introduction of a pizza vending machine that concocts the delicious treat right before your very eyes.

The crimson "Let's Pizza" machine kneads the dough, rolls it into a 12-inch disc, spreads the sauce, sprinkles the cheese and other toppings and bakes the pizza - all in under three minutes!

The pizza, which costs 4 Euros (about $6 USD), can be ordered with any one of these four toppings - cheese and tomato, bacon, ham or veggies. Because it is cooked under infra-red rays, the only thing missing is the aroma.

Though this may seem like a good idea to you and me, traditional pizza makers argue that this is not true Italian pizza. Invented in Naples in Southern Italy in the 1700's, pizza making is considered both an art and a science in this country. A good pizza starts with dough that has been allowed to sit for least 12 hours. It must then be hand-stretched, topped with fresh ingredients and cooked in a wood-fired oven that has been pre-heated to 300 degrees. Any diversion from this method and it is just not the real deal!

The introduction of such machines in Italy is particularly odd, given that it is one of the leaders of the 'Slow Food' movement - which promotes eating long leisurely lunches, cooked from scratch, with fresh ingredients.

However, this is also the country which has the most vending machines of any country in Europe - 600,000 in all - most of them serving up different variations of coffee. In fact the coffee vending machines are so popular that a hit television comedy was filmed entirely in front of one.

While it is too early to tell if 'Lets Pizza' will become as popular, initial tests have generated a lot of interest. Claudio Torghele, the brains behind the idea, says that people especially kids, love to see the pizza being made right in front of their eyes and have so far loved the taste. Also, this three-minute treat costs half as much as a pizza from a traditional Italian pizzeria - huge savings for a country that consumes over 2.5 billion pizzas a year!

If successful, Torghele hopes to introduce "Let's Pizza"  to the rest of Europe and then to the United States, with different topping choices to match local tastes.

Hopefully in the near future, you won't beg your mom for soda, chips or candy from the vending machine at the mall, but a piping hot pizza! YUM!, The,

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