The iconic French baguette has gained new status by securing a place on the United Nations Intangible Cultural Heritage List.
The elongated bread with a crispy crust was voted on Wednesday by the experts on the UNESCO list under the title “craftsmanship and culture of baguette bread”.
The baguette has been a central part of the French diet for at least 100 years and joins kimchi, Jamaican reggae, yoga and around 600 other traditions from more than 130 countries on the list.
The decision not only honors the bread but also recognizes the “know-how of artisan bakers” and “a daily ritual”, said UNESCO chief Audrey Azoulay.
“It is important that these social skills and habits continue to exist in the future.”
France makes around 16 million loaves of bread a day, or nearly six billion a year, according to a 2019 Fiducial estimate.
Yet the culture ministry has warned of a “continuing decline” in the number of artisan bakeries, with some 400 closures every year for the past 50 years.
Marine Fourchier, who lives in Paris, said: “It’s very easy to get the wrong baguette in France. It’s the traditional baguette from the traditional bakery that’s in danger. It’s a matter of quality, not of quantity.”
In January, Leclerc, a French supermarket, came under fire from mainstream bakers and farmers for its much-hyped 29-cent baguette, who accused it of sacrificing quality.
A baguette – which means ‘baguette’ or ‘stick’ – usually sells for around one euro (87p) and is made from just flour, water, salt and yeast.
Other foods and beverages on the cultural heritage list:
- belgian beer
- Arabic coffee
- Michoacan cuisine (traditional Mexican cuisine)
- Gastronomic cooking
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With the new status of bread, the government announced its intention to create an artisanal baguette day, called Open Bakehouse Day, to better connect the French to their heritage.
Although the ingredients for the baguette are simple, the dough must rest for 15 to 20 hours at a temperature between 4C and 6C, according to the French Confederation of Bakers, which is fighting to protect its market from industrial bakeries.
Symbol par excellence of France, the baguette was invented by the Viennese baker August Zang in 1839.