The Baguette has Made the World Cultural Heritage List

Culinary culture is a tradition handed down from generation to generation.

Dec 12, 2022


The Baguette has Made the World Cultural Heritage List | Culinary culture is a tradition handed down from generation to generation.

The humble French baguette – which means wand or baton – is being added to UNESCO’s list of protected intangible cultural heritage on November 30, 2022. This long crusty loaf of bread now joins other foods including Neapolitan pizza, Arabic coffee and kimchi as integral traditions that are passed from generation to generation, reported CNN Travel.

While most people have heard of the 75-year-old UN agency’s work to recognize and preserve the heritage of important places around the globe – the Statue of Liberty, Petra, or the Taj Mahal –, they may not know that UNESCO also has a list of culturally important elements.

But why the baguette? UNESCO's director general, Audrey Azoulay, told CNN  that the baguette's protected status pays tribute to tradition craftsmanship and ensures the artisanal way of baking is continued through future generations.

“It's kind of a way of life,” Azoulay said. “There is always a boulangerie nearby, you can go and buy fresh affordable bread and you meet people, meet with bakers, it's a very important element of social cohesion.”

The simplest of breads
The French baguette is a mix of white wheat flour, water, yeast, and salt, according to France 24, but this symbol of France around the globe is as well known as the Eiffel Tower.

While the ingredients are basic, the baking procedure is not. The dough must rest between 15 to 20 hours and be kept at a constant temperature between 4 and 6 degrees Celsius (39 to 43 degrees Fahrenheit) and baked on site.  Although all share the same ingredients, each baker makes it a little differently.

The baguette has been a staple in the French diet for at least 100 years, its origins aren’t entirely clear. There is a legend that the bakers of Napoleon Bonaparte came up with the bread's long shape to make it easier for his troops to carry. Like K-rations but tastier.

Another legend suggests that the baguette was actually created by August Zang, an Austrian baker but that one hasn’t gained much traction.

Making the list
Making the Heritage list is being celebrated from bakers and non-bakers across the country, reported Reuters. “Ladies and gentlemen, that's it, we're in the UNESCO [World Cultural Heritage list], it's been recognized,” Christophe Moussu, a teacher at the renowned Ferrandi culinary school in Paris told his students to cheers. 

Although  baguette sales have declined in recent years, more than 6 billion baguettes are baked in France every year. This simple bread is still seen as a national treasure.

"I'm very happy because it represents France well,” Parisian pensioner Marie-Dominique Dumas, told Reuters, as she exited a bakery, where she buys a baguette every other day. And that is something to celebrate.

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Bonnie has dedicated her life to promoting social justice. She loves to write about empowering women, helping children, educational innovations, and advocating for the environment & sustainability.