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French baguette vies to get in the UNESCO 'intangible cultural heritage' list

By PINKY S. ICAMEN Published Feb 19, 2021 7:05 am

The baguette is one of the things that are almost always associated with France, like how the Eiffel Tower or the Louvre is. Today, the prized bread is vying to be nominated for the UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage.

Just a quick walk in the morning in a French city or town, one will not miss the smell of freshly baked baguettes that wafts through the air from the bakeries that dot the area. There are reportedly about six million baguettes sold daily in France.

In France, baguettes—with its crusty exterior and soft, doughy center—are mostly eaten for breakfast, slathered with butter and jam.

As this bread has become part of the French’s daily life, the members of the Confederation of French Bakers believe it is necessary to protect the traditional baguette, with more and more breadmakers expressing their concern about mass-produced imitations.

With this, they have submitted the application for the French baguette to be nominated for the UNESCO’s list of “intangible cultural heritage.”

In 1993, France passed a law called Le Décret Pain, which states that traditional baguettes have to be made on the premises where they are sold and can only be made with four ingredients: wheat flour, yeast, water and salt. No preservatives should be added and they can’t be frozen.

In France, baguettes—with its crusty exterior and soft, doughy center—are mostly eaten for breakfast, slathered with butter and jam.

Two other French icons—the gray zinc roofs of Paris and the wine festival in Arbois—are competing with the humble baguette to be picked by French Cultural Minister Roselyne Bachelot, who will then submit the chosen cultural icon to President Emmanuel Macron.

The UNESCO intangible cultural heritage list aims to protect and raise awareness of cultural heritage that cannot be defined by a single place or item. It also aims to save traditions from globalization.

Considered intangible cultural heritage by the UNESCO includes oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, arts, festive events and knowledge and skills to produce traditional crafts.

Those already in the list include Belgium’s beer culture, Singapore’s hawker culture, India’s yoga, Tibetan opera, Naples’ pizza twirling and the Spanish Flamenco.

The Philippines has three intangible cultural heritage elements listed with the UNESCO—tugging rituals and games, which was inscribed in 2015, Hudhud chants of the Ifugao and the Darangen epic of the Maranao people of Lake Lanao, which were both inscribed in 2008.

Banner and thumbnail images from www.france.fr