French Baguette Wins UNESCO World Heritage Status
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Baguette, France’s staple breakfast bread, has made it to the United Nations’ Cultural Heritage list. It was announced on Wednesday. According to a report in Reuters, Paris-based UN Heritage Body, UNESCO, voted to include the ‘artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread’ in its Intangible Cultural Heritage list. It recognises the country's heritage and its importance in maintaining cultural diversity in the face of increasing globalisation. ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’ means helping intercultural dialogue and fostering mutual respect for other ways of life. 

A symbol of France, the term baguette means ‘wand’ or ‘baton’. An elongated fluffy loaf of bread with a crunchy crust, the baguette has been a beloved fixture in French diet for at least 100 years, and it now joins the list of foods - including the Armenian bread Lavash, Kahvesi from Turkey, French gastronomic meal, Mediterranean diet and more, with the prestigious protected status.

Speaking about the same, UNESCO Chief Audrey Azoulay said, “It celebrates a whole culture: the daily ritual, a structural element of a meal, synonymous with sharing and conviviality.” A baguette is sold for around 1 Euro ($1.04) each. France makes around 16 million loaves per day, which is nearly 6 billion baguettes per year, according to a 2019 Fiducial estimate. Praising the UNESCO recognition for the French baguette, President Emmanuel Macron said, “This is something inimitable.” 

For the unversed, the French baguette is made with only flour, water, salt, and yeast. Baguette dough, however, must rest 15 to 20 hours at a temperature between 4 and 6 degrees Celsius, according to the French Bakers Confederation. While the ingredients are always the same, each bakery has its own subtle style, and every year there are nationwide competitions to find the best baguette in the land, the Reuters report further stated.

The French bread dates back to the 1800s, when Vienna-born baker August Zang invented it in 1839. While it is an indomitable part of French culture today, baguette wasn’t given its name until a new regulation defining its minimum weight (80 gm) and maximum length (40 cm) was passed in 1920. 

In fact, even the price of a baguette was fixed until 1986. It was considered a luxury product back then, as the bread lasted longer than others. Loic Bienassis of the European Institute of Food History and Cultures elaborated on the same and told Reuters, "Initially, the baguette was considered a luxury product. The working classes ate rustic breads that kept better. Then consumption became widespread, and the countryside was won over by baguettes in the 1960s and '70s.