For as long as I’ve been drinking wine, I’ve been slicing up baguettes to serve as palate cleansers alongside. (I’ve heard celery and roast beef proposed as superior for the job, but c’mon, celery? I’m sticking with good old baguettes).
The trustworthy loaves were in the news last week when French president Emmanuel Macron asked UNESCO, the UN cultural organization, to place them on the Intangible Cultural Heritage list which seeks to protect cultural practices and entities considered world treasures, including culinary world treasures. Already on the list are washoku, the traditional Japanese cuisine, the culture of Belgian beer drinking, the Korean way of making the fermented condiment kimchi and, as of last year, Neopolitan pizza.
Apparently, it was pizza’s climb onto the list that has galvanized France’s bakers to implore Macron for help. As reported by CNN, the president of the National Confederation of French Bakers, Dominique Anract, explained that severe competition from big supermarkets and convenience stores was pushing the artisanal baguette to the brink of extinction and with it, the traditional bakers who still know how to make the crusty long loaf.
Interestingly, the “gastronomic French meal” is already on UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list. It’s defined as “a fixed structure, commencing with an apéritif (drinks before the meal) and ending with liqueurs, containing in between at least four successive courses, namely a starter, fish and/or meat with vegetables, cheese and dessert.”
Hmmm. What from the U.S. would make the list I wondered? I scrolled through the nearly 500 items added since 2008 (these were but a sample, according to UNESCO). Hundreds of countries had something on the list. Azerbaijan. Mauritius. Greece. Morocco. Kenya. I typed United States of American into the Search bar.
“No results found” came the answer.