French gastronomy recognised by UN culture body

A row of restaurants in Lyon, France (file picture) Unesco said France's gastronomic meal with its rites fulfilled the conditions to make it on the list

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UN cultural organisation Unesco has added France's traditional gastronomic meal to the world's intangible heritage list at a committee meeting in Kenya.

This is the first time that gastronomy has made it on to the list.

Traditional Mexican food has also been included on the list by Unesco experts, who have been meeting in Nairobi.

Other cultural elements said to have been recognised include Spain's flamenco, Colombia's marimba instrument and chants from its Pacific coast.

The huaconada, a traditional dance of the Mito people in the Peruvian Andes, has also been added to the list.

The UN culture and education agency had to consider 51 new candidates for its intangible heritage list, which was started in 2003 to preserve the world's art forms and traditions considered under threat from globalisation.

Traditions such as Mongolian folk-dancing, the tango from Argentina and Croatian lace-making now rank alongside the Great Barrier Reef and the Acropolis in Athens on Unesco's lists.

Ritual

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Unesco experts in Nairobi, said the "gastronomic meal of the French" with its rites and its presentation, fulfilled the conditions for featuring on the list.

The committee said one of the reasons behind its choice was that French gastronomy is a "social custom aimed at celebrating the most important moments in the lives of individuals and groups".

The listing on Thursday is the result of a long campaign by a group of leading chefs who fear French cuisine is under threat from modern life and the global food industry, says the BBC's Christian Fraser in Paris.

France's submission centred mostly around the ritual itself: how wines are paired with dishes, how the table is dressed, and the precise placing of glasses and cutlery.

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