A French bakery product has been given a special status by the United Nations.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) granted a heritage recognition to the French baguette by placing it on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage. The “Artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” was the official addition to the list.
UNESCO’s director general, Audrey Azoulay, told CNN the bread product’s newly recognized status honors “tradition,” “craftsmanship” and makes sure that the “artisanal way of baking” is “passed on to the next generation.”
“It’s kind of a way of life” Azoulay said. “There is always a boulangerie nearby, you can go and buy fresh affordable bread and you meet people, meet with bakers, it’s a very important element of social cohesion.”
“This will make people realize that this regular baguette that they know very well, is something precious,” she said. “It comes from history and it has character and it’s important to made the public aware of this, to be proud of it.”
The baguette’s nomination, which was drafted by France, pointed out that baguettes “generate modes of consumption and social practices that differentiate them from other types of bread, such as daily visits to bakeries to purchase the loaves and specific display racks to match their long shape.”
“Baguettes require specific knowledge and techniques: they are baked throughout the day in small batches and the outcomes vary according to the temperature and humidity,” it noted.
“The baguette is consumed in many contexts, including during family meals, in restaurants, and in work and school cafeterias,” it added.
Rima Abdul Malak, the country’s culture minister, said the announcement is a “great recognition for our artisans and these unifying places that are our bakeries.”
Other selected winners include Pyrenean village winter bear festivals, German Modern Dance, manual bell ringing of Spain, “Hungarian string band tradition,” and “Festivals related to the Journey of the Holy family in Egypt.”
The economic situation has threatened to devastate businesses across the region. Recent unrest in Europe has led to fears about bakeries going out of business. After Russia invaded Ukraine, energy costs soared in Europe, creating a dire situation for many citizens, families, and organizations, as they grapple with high prices and an upcoming winter.
“I’m so, so afraid of losing my life’s work,” one baker said, per The Washington Post. The electrical costs for her bakery have gone up to $7,900 from $2,500, with the price of main ingredients increasing as well.
“It makes me sick,” she said, adding that if the worst case scenario pans out, “we are all going to have to close our bakeries. There will be no more bread in France.”