French Food, the latest UNESCO World Heritage ? Ouiiiiiii!

french cousins eating french friesImage by bubbo-tubbo via Flickr         French Cousins eating French Fries
You've all heard about the UNESCO listing as World Heritage famous monuments like the Egyptian Pyramids with the objective of assisting in their preservation for humanity. Now, for the first time ever, gastronomy has been added to the list, under the wonderfully fexible category delicately called "intangible heritage".

No, it's not a joke!

A very serious UNESCO committee - called the Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage - meeting in Nairobi, Kenya, in the afternoon of Tuesday 16 November 2010,  has broken new ground. It has declared that the "French traditional gastronomic meal" to celebrate festive events is accepted in the list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Along with Mexican Food, Spanish Flamenco, Chinese Acupuncture, falconry and the Mediterranean Diet, bringing the list up to 229 protected cultural practices.

No kidding! So, as of now, your Sunday meal is a UNESCO Heritage feature provided you're French and eating it in France. You're allowed to do all that heavy eating and drinking as long as it is done in the name of celebrating some culturally important event, such as a birth, a marriage...what about death? UNESCO says nothing about that - what a pity. But then, that's good, it leaves the door open to the famous Irish wake, all that traditional eating and drinking that the Irish engage in all night long as soon as someone in the family dies. Quick, better tell the Irish diplomats at UNESCO to get moving and register their candidature for listing the Irish wake!

But wait a minute - this listing of a "French gastronomic meal", what is it supposed to achieve? Oh yes, the UNESCO language is clear on this point: it's meant to help preserve the "bien manger" and "bien boire" - good food and drink -.  But...How about the "bien parler", the art of conversation? Isn't that also part of a gastronomic meal - if not, if it's just about eating and drinking, what kind of celebration are we talking about? Rolling around on the floor, dead drunk? Vomiting in the bathroom ?

Last and not least, how is the French Government going to preserve this heritage? Will it set up a special department in the Ministry of Culture to inspect Frenchmen's Sunday and festive meals to make sure they are gastronomic? A French-form of "Big Brothers is Watching You" (over your meals)?

Don't laugh! This is no laughing matter. I think this is wonderful news, it opens the door to all sorts of good things. I'm going tomorrow to Vienna and I'm going to tell my Viennese friends to make sure to candidate the Wiener Schnitzel to UNESCO...And I'm sure there are many more candidates to the Intangible Heritage Listing. Hey, what about you, the Chinese? Bird's nests? And you, the Japanese, how about raw fish? To get it into the list, all you have to do is wrap it up in the framework of  a feast, sorry, I meant a cultural celebration. 

Please join in, everyone from all over the world,  the good word should be spread everywhere! You are  urged to provide UNESCO with worthwhile Heritage candidates for the food, sorry, I mean the good of humanity...
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