Food Heritage?

UNESCO World Heritage flag
Image via Wikipedia


Apparently Italian food is set for a place on the UNESCO world heritage list?

Mediterranean diet set for place on world heritage list: Italian minister hails ‘big success for our culture‘ as Unesco considers adding menu to list of ‘intangible’ cultural heritage. (The Guardian)

Italian officials are quoted as saying they are; “certain the UN will add a salad of tomato and mozzarella, topped off by a splash of olive oil” to its list of global stuff worth protecting. What’s that all about then?

What makes Italian cuisine any more noteworthy than food from other nations? Take curry, now reportedly ‘the most popular British Dish’ as an example. So it’s hardly surprising the We Love Curry Facebook Group has asked: “What curry dish would you add to the world heritage list?”

Not surprisingly, the United States initiated the idea of a ‘World Heritage Trust’ at a White House conference back in 1965. At that time they called for; the preservation of “the world’s superb natural and scenic areas and historic sites for the present and the future of the entire world citizenry.” I can kind of understand the value of providing protection for man-made and natural resources but food… When/why did that come about?

It is interesting this ‘invention’ was born in the USA, a very young nation in terms of history. One that has little or no ‘culture’ of its own, save that of the Native America population. These days America appears to constantly crave recognition for a ‘cultural and historic status’ but until relatively recently, it took little cognisance of its own indigenous population.

It seems to me; despite World Heritage status having some merit, it also opposes many of those ideas that are insistently rammed down our throats by politicians. We are constantly instructed about how we should ‘value’ the ‘importance’ to our society of ‘developing cosmopolitan diversity’. We are told that today, ‘our planet is a smaller place’ and to accept that, our demography is in a constant state of flux, due to human migration.

I agree that ’embracing diversity’ and having a ‘cosmopolitan’ outlook on life is good. All my life I have sampled food from different cultures and enjoyed the delights of learning about different cultures. I have never needed to be instructed to do it by any international or national organisation… I suspect the Italian desire to have ‘their’ tomato and mozzarella salad smothered with olive oil recognised will subsequently turn to, Protected Country of Origin Status. How long will it be before you won’t see the words ‘Italian’ & ‘Salad’ in the same line on a menu? Unless you sat eating at some Piazza Italia Cafe or other in Rome of course!

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