French baguette makes it onto World Cultural Heritage list

The humble baguette, France's staple bread, has made it onto the United Nation's cultural heritage list.

Paris-based UN heritage body UNESCO on Wednesday voted to include the "artisanal know-how and culture of baguette bread" on its list of Intangible Cultural Heritage, which already includes around 600 traditions from over 130 countries.

The baguette, now a symbol of France around the world, has been a central part of the French diet for at least 100 years, and there are several myths about its origins.

One legend has it that the bakers of Napoleon Bonaparte came up with the elongated shape to make it easier for his troops to carry, while another posits that it was actually an Austrian baker named August Zang who invented the baguette.

These days a baguette - which means "wand" or "baton" - is sold for around 1 euro (AED 3.81) each.

Although baguette consumption has declined over the last century, France still makes around 16 million of the loaves per day - that's 6 billion baguettes a year - according to a 2019 Fiducial estimate.

Made only with flour, water, salt and yeast, baguette dough must rest 15 to 20 hours at a temperature between 4 and 6 degrees Celcius, according to the French Bakers Confederation, which fights to protect its market from industrial bakeries.

But if the ingredients are always the same, each bakery has its own subtle style, and every year there are nationwide competitions to find the best baguette in the land.

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