French baguette gains UNESCO intangible cultural heritage status


As of this Wednesday (30), French bread is on the same level as bumba-meu-boi from Maranhão, frevo from Recife and capoeira circles. But it’s not the bread bought in any bakery in Brazil, but the baguette made in France — that long bread in the past called a cane.

Because the French baguette entered the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, whose 2022 edition was released this Wednesday by Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization).

The relationship has existed since 2008 and, in these 15 years, the entity has chosen around 600 cultural manifestations around the world, such as those already mentioned in Brazil and others such as the art of Turkish storytellers (in 2008), Portuguese fado (in 2011 ) or the three alphabets currently in use in Georgia (as of 2016).

In the case of the French baguette, the list did not include the bread itself, but the craftsmanship and culture surrounding the product. In the justification for inclusion, Unesco noted: “The traditional production process involves weighing the ingredients, mixing, kneading, fermenting, dividing, relaxing, hand-shaping, second fermentation, marking the dough with shallow cuts (baker’s signature) and baking . Unlike other breads, the baguette is made with only four ingredients (flour, water, salt and yeast), from which each baker obtains a unique product”.

Regarding the culture of baguettes, the text recalls that “they also generate modes of consumption and social practices that differentiate them from other types of bread, such as daily visits to bakeries to buy bread and specific displays to match their long shape. baguette is consumed in several contexts, including during family meals, in restaurants, work canteens and schools”.

According to different sources, from 6 billion to 10 billion baguettes are consumed each year in France — which means that, every day, the French eat between 16 million and 27 million units. For a country of 67 million people, that’s about one baguette per family every day.

But culture goes further. In practically all of the films by François Truffaut (1932-1984), who portrayed everyday life in the country like no one else, it is possible to see a character walking with a baguette under his armpit or carrying a brown shopping bag with one of them wanting to fall.

When France signed up the cane to try to get on the Unesco list, in March last year, the president of the French association of bakers, Dominique Anract, told the Reuters news agency: “The first task we give a child is to order it. her to buy a baguette at the bakery”.

It even gives the impression that the baguette is a culture of many centuries in France, like cheeses and wines, but not so much. The recipe was created in the 19th century, and its name was only made official in 1920. The chosen pattern, weighing 250 grams and 80 centimeters, became popular in the mid-20th century.

“The baguette is flour, water, salt, yeast — and the artisan’s know-how,” wrote the president of bakers this Wednesday. Parisian baker Priscilla Hayertz summed up the AFP agency: “It’s basic, but it reaches all social classes, whether you’re rich or poor. It doesn’t matter, everyone eats baguettes.”

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