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France's bakers seek UNESCO recognition for the humble baguette

France's bakers seek UNESCO recognition for the humble baguette
February 19, 2021

PARIS (Reuters) - The baguette - a mix of wheat flour, water, yeast, salt and a pinch of savoir-faire and as much a symbol of France as the Eiffel Tower - may soon join UNESCO’s listing of cultural treasures.

Bakers say the traditional craft loaf, whose purchase from the local bakery has for decades been a ritual in French daily life, is being pushed off shop shelves, even in France, by frozen bread sticks made on giant assembly lines.

“There’s not one single secret to making a good traditional baguette,” said Mickael Reydellet, owner of eight bakeries. “It requires time, a savoir-faire, the right way of baking, good flour without additives.”

The Confederation of French Bakers has submitted its application to be added to the U.N. rankings of intangible treasures.

Bakers say the UNESCO listing would protect a know-how that has passed through generations and shield the baguette from imposters around the world.

The UNESCO “intangible heritage” marker - meant to recognise oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, rituals and methods of traditional craftsmanship - already covers ancient methods of making flat breads in Iran and Kazakhstan.

 
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The craft behind 1,500 or more beers brewed in Belgium has been recognised, as has the Neapolitan art of pizza twirling.

A 1993 French government decree dictates that “traditional” baguettes must be made from nothing more than the four classic ingredients. Fermentation of the dough should last 15 to 20 hours in a temperature between 4 to 6 degrees Celsius.

France’s boulangeries have been hit hard by COVID-19 restrictions over the past year. Reydellet said: “This title would comfort bakers and encourage the next generation.”

“The first errand we ask of a child is to go buy a baguette from a bakery.” Anract said. “We owe it to ourselves to protect these habits.”

Reporting by Noemie Olive; Writing by Ardee Napolitano; Editing by R

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