The Baguette May Join UNESCO’s Listing of Cultural Treasures

French bakers seek UNESCO recognition for the baguette, a mix of wheat flour, water, yeast, salt, and a pinch of savoir-faire, according to Reuters. Bakers say the traditional craft loaf, whose purchase from the local bakery has for decades been a ritual in French daily life, is being pushed off shop shelves, even in France, by frozen breadsticks made on giant assembly lines. The Confederation of French Bakers has submitted its application for the baguette to be added to the UN rankings of intangible treasures. It finds itself up against two rivals for the French bid: The zinc-plated rooftops of Paris and the Jura region’s Biou d’Arbois wine festival. France’s culture minister will make her recommendation to the President in March.

“There’s not one single secret to making a good traditional baguette,” said Mickael Reydellet, owner of eight bakeries. “It requires time, a savoir-faire, the right way of baking, good flour without additives,” he added. A 1993 French government decree dictates that “traditional” baguettes must be made from nothing more than the four classic ingredients. Fermentation of the dough should last 15 to 20 hours at a temperature between 4 to 6 degrees C.

About six million baguettes are sold daily in France.

Dominique Anract, president of the bakers’ federation, said the cultural habit was under threat, with some 30,000 bakeries closing since the 1950s as supermarkets took over. “The first errand we ask of a child is to go buy a baguette from a bakery,” Anract said. “We owe it to ourselves to protect these habits,” he concluded.

The UNESCO “intangible heritage” marker – meant to recognize oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals, and methods of traditional craftsmanship – already covers ancient methods of making flatbreads in Iran and Kazakhstan.

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