France's Macron wants baguettes protected by UNESCO

Some foods have 'cultural heritage' classification

By ERIC LEVENSON AND LORENZO D'AGOSTINO, CNN
Chris Jackson/Getty Images

(CNN) - French President Emmanuel Macron said he wants the traditional baguette -- that delicious doughy delicacy -- to be protected as a world treasure by UNESCO.

In an interview Friday with Europe 1 radio, Macron said that "the baguette is envied in the whole world."

"We need to preserve its excellence and know-how. This is why it needs to be (classified) as heritage," he said.

UNESCO, the UN cultural organization, has designated certain cultural foods or cuisines to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. The traditional Japanese cuisine "washoku," Belgian beer culture and the Korean way of making kimchi are just a few of the many foods and practices on the list.

Earlier Friday, Dominique Anract, president of the National Confederation of French Bakers, had asked Macron to support the group's bid to the UN agency "to protect the quality of traditional baguette" against "the increasing weight of big supermarkets and convenience stores in the retail of bread."

In a statement on his organization's website, Anract said that the increased competition faced by traditional bakeries, or boulangeries, endangers the preservation of the bakers' know-how and skills.

In his interview with Europe 1, Macron linked this proposal to the successful UNESCO bid by Neapolitan pizza makers last year.

"I know our bakers, they saw that the Neapolitans managed to have pizza (classified) as (part of) world heritage, so they said, 'Why not the baguette?' And they're right," he said.

The French President said that the baguette is part of "the daily life of the French, in the morning, at midday and in the evening. It's not a matter of beliefs; everyone has it."

The baguette, he said, "has been a part of humanity since its beginning."

French food is already on UNESCO's list. In 2010, the organization inscribed the "gastronomic meal of the French" to its list of intangible cultural heritage practices.

"The gastronomic meal should respect 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," the entry said.

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