UNESCO recognised 25 food and drink-related traditions as of January 2022, as part of its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Just like many cultural traditions from around the world- raising a toast, shaking hands with everyone, or bowing down, etc., there are certain culinary traditions too in each country that we may not know of. No, we aren’t talking about eating with fork or knife, or clinking glasses, etc., but way beyond it. From picking truffles in Italy to the Hawkers food culture in Singapore, many such traditions were recently recognised by The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as ‘intangible culture’ to celebrate and safeguard.
Yes, you may know of UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites, but the organisation recognised 25 food and drink-related traditions as of January 2022, as part of its Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. After all, food and culture are interwoven, aren’t they? So here are top 5 food cultures from the list of UNESCO.
1. Truffle Hunting In Italy
Not only are truffles an important ingredient in Italian cuisine, the selection of these is of cultural importance. Especially in Tuscany, the major truffle-producing region. In 2021, UNESCO recognised the importance of Italy’s tartufi truffle-hunting traditions, which are passed down orally through the generations. The process is quite intricate, and involves hunting the truffles, identifying areas where the fungus grows, and finally harvesting the truffles, which is done with a special spade.
2. Ceebu Jën In Senegal
Ceebu jën (Thieboudienne) is the national dish of Senegal in West Africa, whose recipe is passed down from mother to daughter. While every home in the region has its own spin to the dish, the essential ingredients include fish, broken rice, tomatoes, onions, and other seasonal vegetables. The recipe originated in fishing villages on Saint-Louis Island and is today eaten across the country and in other nations in the region, including Guinea-Bissau, Mali, Mauritania, and The Gambia. While at home the dish is served in one large bowl (bolus) and eaten with one’s hands or using a piece of bread to scoop up the rice. When it is made on a special occasion or for guests, higher quality fish and finer vegetables are used. Ceebu jë is widely considered to be a symbol of Senegalese terranga (hospitality).
3. Lavash in Armenia
Armenian lavash has an important place in the country’s food culture. It has a ceremonial role in Armenian weddings as well, where sheets of the bread are draped over the bride and groom’s shoulders to signal future prosperity. Besides, it was the skill and coordination that is required to knead and cook lavash, along with the social exchange that takes place among women when preparing it, that prompted UNESCO to inscribe Armenian lavash in 2014. For those unversed, lavash dough is a simple mix of wheat flour and water. It is kneaded and rolled, pulled and stretched over a special cushion that’s stuffed with hay or wool. While on the cushion, the bread is then transferred to a conical clay oven (called a tonir) by ‘slapping’ it onto the side. It’s eaten on regularly in Armenian homes, often with cheese or meat, and can be found on restaurant menus around the country.
Have you tried any of these foods? Let us know.