Food on the World Heritage List

20 Nov


For a historical first, UNESCO added cuisine to its World Heritage List. French gastronomy is one of two cuisines to be added for its social and cultural significance:

“The gastronomic meal of the French is a customary social practice for celebrating important moments.

“The gastronomic meal emphasizes togetherness. Important elements include the careful selection of dishes from a constantly growing repertoire of recipes… the pairing of food with wine, the setting of a beautiful table.”

The other cuisine added to the list is the traditional Mexican meal:

“Traditional Mexican cuisine is a comprehensive cultural model comprising farming, ritual practices, age-old skills, culinary techniques and ancestral community customs and manners. It is made possible by collective participation in the entire traditional food chain: from planting and harvesting to cooking and eating.”

To a foodie, this is exciting news. With protection from UNESCO, we can (hopefully) ensure that food traditions will continue to exist even if our culinary eye is focused on reinvention and reinterpretation.

But this may create problems for the future.

The addition of these two cuisines to the World Heritage list creates a precedence for other countries to do the same. If every other cuisine with social, cultural, and historical significance get added to the list the value of this recognition will diminish. What then? We’ll just have to wait and see.

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