Crunch time: The baguette gets UN world heritage status

Nov 30, 2022, 3:52 AM | Updated: Dec 6, 2022, 7:04 am
Baker David Buelens carries uncooked baguettes to the oven at a bakery in Versailles, west of Paris...

Baker David Buelens carries uncooked baguettes to the oven at a bakery in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

(AP Photo/Michel Euler)

PARIS (AP) — The humble baguette — the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world — is being added to the U.N.’s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity.

UNESCO experts gathering in Morocco this week decided that the simple French flute — made only of flour, water, salt, and yeast — deserved United Nations recognition, after France’s culture ministry warned of a “continuous decline” in the number of traditional bakeries, with some 400 closing every year over the past half-century.

The U.N. cultural agency’s chief, Audrey Azoulay, said the decision honors more than just bread; it recognizes the “savoir-faire of artisanal bakers” and “a daily ritual.”

“It is important that such craft knowledge and social practices can continue to exist in the future,” added Azoulay, a former French culture minister.

The agency defines intangible cultural heritage as “traditions or living expressions inherited from our ancestors and passed on to our descendants.”

With the bread’s new status, the French government said it planned to create an artisanal baguette day, called the “Open Bakehouse Day,” to connect the French better with their heritage.

Back in France, bakers seemed proud, if unsurprised.

“Of course, it should be on the list because the baguette symbolizes the world. It’s universal,” said Asma Farhat, baker at Julien’s Bakery near Paris’ Champs-Elysees avenue.

“If there’s no baguette, you can’t have a proper meal. In the morning you can toast it, for lunch it’s a sandwich, and then it accompanies dinner.”

Although it seems like the quintessential French product, the baguette was said to have been invented by Vienna-born baker August Zang in 1839. Zang put in place France’s steam oven, making it possible to produce bread with a brittle crust yet fluffy interior.

The product’s zenith did not come until the 1920s, with the advent of a French law preventing bakers from working before 4 a.m. The baguette’s long, thin shape meant it could be made more quickly than its stodgy cousins, so it was the only bread that bakers could make in time for breakfast.

Despite the decline in traditional bakery numbers today, France’s 67 million people still remain voracious baguette consumers — purchased at a variety of sales points, including in supermarkets. The problem is, observers say, that they can often be poor in quality.

“It’s very easy to get bad baguette in France. It’s the traditional baguette from the traditional bakery that’s in danger. It’s about quality not quantity,” said one Paris resident, Marine Fourchier, 52.

In January, French supermarket chain Leclerc was criticized by traditional bakers and farmers for its much publicized 29-cent baguette, accused of sacrificing the quality of the famed 65-centimeter (26-inch) loaf. A baguette normally costs just over 90 euro cents (just over $1), seen by some as an index on the health of the French economy.

The baguette is indeed serious business. France’s “Bread Observatory” — a venerable institution that closely follows the fortunes of the flute — notes that the French munch through 320 baguettes of one form or another every second. That’s an average of half a baguette per person per day, and 10 billion every year.

The “artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread” was inscribed at the Morocco meeting among other global cultural heritage items, including Japan’s Furyu-odori ritual dances, and Cuba’s light rum masters.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


              Baker David Buelens puts the baguettes into a basket at a bakery, in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
            
              Baguettes in a basket are pictured at a bakery, in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
            
              Mylene Poirier puts baguettes in a bag for a customer at a bakery, in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
            
              Mylene Poirier talks to a customer as she takes a baguette at a bakery, in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
            
              Baker David Buelens puts the baguettes into a basket at a bakery, in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
            
              Baker David Buelens takes out the baguettes of an oven at a bakery, in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
            
              Baker David Buelens carries uncooked baguettes to the oven at a bakery in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
            Bakery owner Florence Poirier, LEFT, smells the fresh baguette who comes out of the oven as Mylene Poirier stands next to her at a bakery, in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler) Bakery owner Florence Poirier puts baguettes in to a bag that reads, " the real taste of bread," for a customer at a bakery, in Versailles, west of Paris, Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2022. The humble baguette -- the crunchy ambassador for French baking around the world -- is being added to the U.N.'s list of intangible cultural heritage as a cherished tradition to be preserved by humanity. UNESCO experts gathering Wednesday Nov. 30, 2022 in Morocco decided that the simple French flute deserved U.N. recognition. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)

AP

Sri Lankan president Ranil Wickremesinghe, left, arrives at the parliament to deliver his policy sp...
Associated Press

Sri Lankan leader appeals for patience amid economic crisis

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lanka’s president on Wednesday appealed for patience amid the country’s worst economic crisis but promised brighter times ahead. President Ranil Wickremesinghe said in a policy speech after inaugurating a new parliamentary session that he had been forced to make unpopular decisions to salvage the country’s finances, including by implementing […]
3 hours ago
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addresses a media conference after the EU-Ukraine summit in...
Associated Press

Zelenskyy to visit UK for first time since Russia’s invasion

LONDON (AP) — Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy will visit Britain on Wednesday, his first trip to the U.K. since Russia’s invasion began nearly a year ago and only his second confirmed journey outside Ukraine during the war. The British government says Zelenskyy will hold talks with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, address Parliament and meet with […]
3 hours ago
Currency traders pass by the screens showing the Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI), left, a...
Associated Press

Asian shares mixed after Wall St gains on Fed chair comments

BANGKOK (AP) — Shares were mixed in Asia on Wednesday after stocks rallied on Wall Street following comments by the chair of the Federal Reserve signaling that last week’s stunningly strong jobs report won’t by itself sway its stance on interest rates hikes. Hong Kong, Sydney and Seoul rose while Tokyo and Shanghai declined. U.S. […]
3 hours ago
Characters from The Simpsons pose before the premiere of "The Simpsons Movie", Springfield, Vermont...
Associated Press

Disney cuts Simpsons ‘forced labor’ episode in Hong Kong

HONG KONG (AP) — Walt Disney Co. has removed an episode from cartoon series The Simpsons that included a reference to “forced labor camps” in China from its streaming service in Hong Kong. The company did not immediately respond to a request for comment about why the episode, “One Angry Lisa” from The Simpsons’ 34th […]
3 hours ago
FILE - In this Dec. 1, 2020, file photo, the Olympic rings are reinstalled after it was taken down ...
Associated Press

Tokyo Olympic official, 3 others held in bid-rigging probe

TOKYO (AP) — A senior official with the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee and three company executives were arrested Wednesday in an ongoing bid-rigging scandal related to the Games. Yasuo Mori, the Olympic official, was arrested along with Koji Henmi, who headed the sports division at Japanese advertising giant Dentsu. Two other business executives were also […]
3 hours ago
FILE - Power grid stand against the residential and office buildings in Beijing as the capital of C...
Associated Press

IEA: Asia set to use half of world’s electricity by 2025

BERLIN (AP) — Asia will for the first time use half of the world’s electricity by 2025, even as Africa continues to consume far less than its share of the global population, according to a new forecast released Wednesday by the International Energy Agency. Much of Asia’s electricity use will be in China, a nation […]
1 day ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet edges out cable for everyday use

In a world where technology drives so much of our daily lives, a lack of high-speed internet can be a major issue.
(Photo via MLB's Arizona Fall League / Twitter)...
Arizona Fall League

Top prospects to watch at this year’s Arizona Fall League

One of the most exciting elements of the MLB offseason is the Arizona Fall League, which began its 30th season Monday.
...
Quantum Fiber

How high-speed fiber internet can improve everyday life

Quantum Fiber supplies unlimited data with speeds up to 940 mbps, enough to share 4K videos with coworkers 20 times faster than a cable.
Crunch time: The baguette gets UN world heritage status