French gastronomy now listed as Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

Published on May 12, 2011
  • © Atout France/Phovoir

  • © Atout France/Phovoir

French gastronomy now listed as Unesco’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

As of November 16, 2010, gastronomic French meals have become part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage. It’s the first time ever that Unesco, the United Nations organization in charge of culture, acknowledges culinary traditions.

It started on February 23, 2008, at the inauguration of Paris’ Salon de l’Agriculture, when French president Sarkozy announced that French gastronomy was a Unesco candidate.

The gastronomic meal should respect a certain structure, with a proper succession of courses, namely a starter, a main dish and dessert. Other important elements include the careful selection of dishes from a constantly growing repertoire of recipes; the selection of good food, preferably local products whose flavors marry well; the pairing of food with wine; the setting of a beautiful table and specific actions during consumption, such as smelling and tasting items at the table, and more.

What is the purpose behind this listing? To promote, support and finance the development of initiatives, therefore preserving the strong culinary heritage.

To reach these goals, a number of concrete measures will be taken:

  • Educational approaches in schools (in partnership with « lycées hôteliers »),
  • An inventory of the elements constituting this heritage (such as the national register of alimentary heritage),
  • An inventory of cultural events related to gastronomy (oenotourism development, for example).

These measures are to be integrated in the National Food program presented by the French Government last September, and will be carried out by all the private and institutional partners involved.

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