UNESCO and French Gastronomy
The Gastronomic Meal of the French inscribed on UNESCO’s representative list of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Huma
In 2010, UNESCO decided for the first time that culinary customs and practices, previously excluded from its world heritage list, could henceforth be considered examples of humanity’s greatest creative achievements.
When the ‘gastronomic meal of the French’ was inscribed on the representative list of intangible cultural heritage on November 16th, 2010, it was an important victory both for France and for the promotion of cultural diversity. Recognition such as this rewards the daily efforts of everyone who plays a part in keeping the gastronomic meal alive, as well as representing a commitment towards our fellow citizens and the international community as a whole.
This first anniversary therefore is a fitting moment to remind ourselves of France’s commitment to promote and transmit to future generations this monument to our heritage and culture.
Nurturing this inscription primarily means promoting and defending the values it represents. The gastronomic meal illustrates ‘the art of good eating and drinking’, the French art of good living and sociability.
It is an opportunity for friends, colleagues, or family members to get together and celebrate a special occasion, by sitting down to share a very special meal. Not only does this celebratory meal demonstrate all the rich diversity of our gastronomic heritage, but it also fosters such values as sharing, being attentive to others, and transmitting the simple pleasures of togetherness. The food is selected and prepared with great care, and generally includes local, traditional produce steeped in cultural values. In addition to the perfect pairing of food and wine, and a table set with care and elegance, conversation is stimulating and enthusiastic. Clearly this is indeed a customary social practice during which the art and pleasure of tasting and sharing good food are paramount.
This makes the gastronomic meal a prime occasion for learning social skills and the art of togetherness. If we are to ensure that this example of popular culture and intangible heritage continues to thrive, we must not fail to implement the measures described in the UNESCO nomination form with daring and ambition.
Jean Robert Pitte
President of the MFPCA (French Heritage and Culture Agency)