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Monday, 25 February 2008

French president calls for stronger protection for souffles


The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Monsieur le President is calling for French gastronomy to be added to the list set up by UNESCO’s Convention on the Protection and Promotion of the Diversity of Cultural Expressions. According to M. Sarkozy

"Agriculture and the professions which craft it every day are the source of our country's gastronomic diversity - it is an essential element of our heritage…That is why I want France to be the first country to apply to UNESCO, from 2009, for our gastronomic tradition to be recognised as a world heritage. We have the best gastronomy in the world."

A chef involved in the project, Guy Savoy added:

“You can talk about cuisine in numerous countries around the world …[but France] is the only one to have such diversity and such possibilities for transforming the produce of local artisans, be they on land or sea".

Mexico has already had a similar bid turned down. The verdict on France is expected in 2010.

The IPKat calls on Mr Brown to follow suit. Who knows when those nasty foreigners will take unfair advantage of Great Britain’s gastronomic treasures. The threat to the humble British black pudding should not be sniffed at. More seriously, the IPKat reckons that national cuisines have been exported outside their birthplaces so comprehensively that it’s rather difficult to work out what any country’s cuisine is anymore.

5 comments:

Anonymous said...

France does it again. The French labour under the eternal misapprehension that they invented gastronomy and enology. Actually historically the French learned to make wine from the Romans, who learnt this craft from the Greeks, who in turn learned from earlier Mediterranean cultures.

The same learning sequence can be attributed to French cuisine. Indeed having travelled widely in in both countries I can definitively say that Italian cooking offers a great deal more variety in terms of local produce such as cheeses, local wines, meat products (salami, prosciutto, hams etc), fruits and vegetables. After all Italy covers an area that stretches from the icy peaks of the Dolomites to the North-African climate of Sicily. Not only does Italy enjoy a great culinary tradition and variety unsurpassed in Europe, but it is also the healthiest diet in the world. Italians live longer than most other nations in the world.

By comparison French cuisine is far more standardised. It should not be the French to launch this initiative, but the two nations with the greatest culinary variety - Italy and China, whose culinary variety surpasses that even of Italy.

So some advice for the "slow food" campaign (an Italian campaign for genuine cuisine), get in there before France and protect the good name of your culinary history - I wait with impatience to see the label "denominazione di origine controllata e guarantita" the next time I buy 100g of Prosciutto di Parma or Grana Padana.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused: what does this UNESCO Convention actually do?

The Kat and the first comment suggest that it is like a protection of origin thing, capable of preventing jolly foreigners from stealing a country's cultural identity. I've been looking up the convention itself and it seems to me that it provides nothing outside the country in question - instead, it only enables the country to protect their culture and diversity within their territory.

See the convention here

And Art 6 in particular: "each Party may adopt measures aimed at protecting and promoting the diversity of cultural expressions within its territory."

So, if France get their gastonomical culture and diversity protected, the only effect would be that the French government could lean on or maybe even monetarily support restauranteurs to ensure that the food remains French (no more HAMBURGers or pizzas) and diverse in nature. As the first comment implies, perhaps two incompatible goals!

But why can't France protect their gastronomy without the convention? Just looks like bureaucracy and marketing gone mad, to me.

Gerontius

Ilanah said...

Hi Gerontius,

I'm not sure your reading is right. Granted it calls on countries to protect cultural expressions within their own territories, but it doesn't limit those cultural expressions along national lines. Thus, it would call on say the UK to protect the diversity of CEs in the UK, but this would include UK CEs, French CEs, Namibian CEs etc.

twr57 said...

...and we're all being asked to protect each other's Traditional Cultural Expressions (or TCEs) here in Geneva, at the current (12th) meeting of the Intergovernmental Committee on Genetic Resources, Traditional Knowledge and Folklore. One - eventual - outcome may be that whenever we file a patent application, we may need to disclose the origin of any biological material to which it refers, or of any Traditional Knowledge on which it is based.

Anonymous said...

One minor correction to your informal poll on which foods should obtain UNESCO recognition - Spaghetti bolognese does not actually exist. Spaghetti is never eaten in Italy with bolognese sauce ("Ragù" in Italian), but rather with finer sauces such as tuna or simply with "olio e pepperoncino" (spicy olive oil). Ragù is traditionally eaten with penne rigate, gnocchi or most commonly with tagliatelle and also with certain filled pasta dishes such as "tortelloni di Zucca al Ragù".

"Spaghetti bolognese" somehow arose from a corrupted Italian expatriate cuisine. If you go to an Italian restaurant and it is on the menu, go and eat somewhere else, because it means you are in a place which knows nothing about Italian cooking.

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