An icon of the French culture portrayed in the big screens, the baguette has finally made it into the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.
The decision was announced on November 30 as the UN heritage body, UNESCO, voted to include the “artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. This achievement “celebrates the French way of life: the baguette is a daily ritual, a structuring element of the meal, synonymous with sharing and conviviality,” said Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s chief.
A baguette is a long, thin type of bread that is commonly made from basic lean dough. It is distinguishable by its length and crisp crust. The history of the French baguette, however, is not completely known, leading to several myths to be spread about the origins of this type of bread.
Some say Napoleon Bonaparte created the French baguette in order to allow soldiers easily be able to carry bread with them. Since the round shape of other breads took up a lot of space, rumors run that Bonaparte requested they be made into the skinny stick shape with specific measurements to be able to slide into the soldiers’ uniform.
These days a baguette, which means “wand” or “baton”, is sold for around 1 euro ($1.04) each. Although baguette consumption has declined over the last decades, France still makes around 16 million of the loaves per day, nearly 6 billion baguettes a year, according to a 2019 Fiducial estimate.
The UNESCO heritage list includes around 600 traditions from over 130 countries as it attempts to preserve skills and social habits part of different cultures from across the globe.
It is important that these skills and social habits continue to exist in the future.Audrey Azoulay, UNESCO’s chief
Some of the traditions that have made into the UNESCO’s Intangible list include beekeeping in Slovenia, traditional tea processing techniques in China, art of pottery-making of the Cham people in Vietnam, among many others.