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French baguette added to UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage



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PARIS — Lovers of the iconic French loaf: Cheer up! The baguette has now been specially recognized by the United Nations as an integral part of the cultural heritage of humanity.

That is to say, the culture and ingenuity of making and consuming baguettes has been supplemented by UNESCO, an organization with headquarters in Paris. United Nations cultural agency, on a list that provides not only international recognitionbut also the option of please sponsor to preserve this “intangible” heritage for future generations.

The baking news was greeted with enthusiasm at bakeries in France on Wednesday and sent the country’s social networks into a frenzy. a madness of memes. Members of France’s UNESCO delegation celebrated by lifting baguettes into the air as the decision was announced in Rabat, Morocco.

Back home in Paris, some bakers greeted their customers by announcing the good news. And French President Emmanuel Macron’s Twitter account briefly paused updates on his state visit to the United States to pay tribute to the “250 grams of magic and perfection” encapsulated. in “a way of life”.

“It’s protected by UNESCO from now on,” baker Sylvie Debellemaniere said proudly as she handed the baguette — crispy on the outside but soft on the inside — to one of her customers Wednesday night.

Debellemaniere, who regularly delivers her fresh loaves to UNESCO headquarters, should have had many opportunities to bribe the Paris-based organization with super soft French bread in recent months. But although the baker was nervously watching Wednesday’s long-anticipated decision, she never had any real doubts about the outcome.

For her, baguettes are a “mythical” part of French life – and a “very sophisticated” one, she says. One week, she sold more than 1,000 pieces.

“The baguette has very few ingredients – flour, water, salt, yeast – but each bread is unique and the essential ingredient every time is the skill of the baker,” said Dominique Anract, Federation president. Country of Bread and Pastry France said.

When Parisians dropped by their local bakeries on Wednesday, many rejoiced at the news that they were in possession of a world cultural heritage site.

Carefully balancing her UNESCO-approved purchases, customers and bread lovers, 42-year-old Jean-Marie Michot, praise the bread as both essential and versatile.

He affirmed without hesitation that fresh French bread is good for the body. In any case, he adds, it’s better than stale baguettes from the supermarket.

Claire Dinhut, 26 years old, French-American food and travel content creator, say by email: “The baguette is such a signature part of French identity that I am really pleased to hear that it has been added to the world heritage list.”

“I rarely eat a baguette outside of France because eating a baguette without the ‘ritual’ of walking to the local (and favorite) French bakery is just eating the bread. Dinhut, who lives in London, says eating a baguette is more than that. “Nothing compares to the first tear of a fresh baguette. It was perfect on its own, with a slice of rich salty butter, sweet jam, a wonderful piece of cheese… The list goes on and on.”

Bakeries are deeply ingrained in French culture. The 11th season of the TV show “The best bakery in France” has attracted millions of viewers. During the lockdown caused by the coronavirus pandemic, bakeries are considered essential business and a trip to the bakery is an approved activity.

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The French baking industry has led a years-long campaign to secure its place on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. UNESCO recognizes the traditions, crafts and items that are part of the intangible cultural heritage of humanity because of the “richness of knowledge and skills passed” through them “from generation to generation.” from generation to generation”.

In this case, the Nominations drafted by France highlights the fact that baguettes “create social patterns and consumption patterns that distinguish them from other breads, such as going to the baker every day to buy a loaf and the price specific displays to accommodate their elongated shapes.”

“Baguettes are consumed in many contexts, including in family meals, in restaurants and in work and school canteens,” it added.

France’s Culture Minister, Rima Abdul Malak, said the decision was a “great recognition of our artisans and these unifying places are our bakeries.”

But in a way, Wednesday’s UNESCO announcement is also a much-needed boost for French bakers.

In August in Paris, sometimes it takes 20 minutes to have a baguette

French bakeries still produce about 6 billion baguettes a year, according to French newspaper Le Mondebut Average daily servings of bread has decreased from 800 grams in 1875 to about 80 grams. Across the country, and especially in rural areas, over the past few decades, bakeries have disappeared at a rate of about 400 a year, prompting the industry to warn that more needs to be done. to protect the know-how of baguette production. .

Despite running a bakery in central Paris, baker Debellemaniere said she is increasingly worried about the future of the industry.

“I’m very, very scared of losing my life’s job,” she said as she stood in her bakery. As energy prices rose after Russia invaded Ukraine, her bakery’s spending on electricity jumped from $2,500 to $7,900. The cost of key components also increases.

“It makes me sick,” she said. If worst-case predictions, including power outages, come true, then “we will all have to close our bakeries. There will be no more bread in France.”

Debellemaniere had to make tough choices already. While her customers used to be able to buy fresh-baked loaves until the evening, she now has to sell pre-made and cold baguettes to save electricity.

And recently, she says, she’s had to do what’s long been unthinkable in France – raise the price of a baguette. From $1.25 to $1.35.

Timsit reports from London.

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