UNESCO: Protecting Cultural Heritages Worldwide

Written by Sarah Faith

If you’ve ever been to France, then you know that a baguette from a boulangerie in Paris, Lyon, or Provence has an air of je ne sais quoi about it. More than four hundred years of practice – and a revolution – have gone into the making of the iconic French baguette. It is a staple food, a part of daily French life – morning, midday and in the evening. A veritable symbol of the country.

The traditional baguette is protected under a 1993 French law. To truly be considered a “traditional French baguette,” the bread must be made on the premises from which it is sold, it must be made with four ingredients only (wheat flour, water, yeast and salt), it cannot be frozen at any stage, and it cannot contain additives or preservatives. Making a traditional baguette requires more than the ability to follow a recipe. It requires practiced skill.

Photo courtesy of CNN

However, times are changing. Many French are no longer eating baguette three times a day as eating patterns change. Fewer bakeries are making baguettes in the traditional manner, often relying on frozen bread in an effort to cut costs.

Now, in an effort to protect the quality of and skill that goes into the making of the baguette, President Emmanuel Macron is supporting a bid by the National Confederation of French Bakers. Their goal is protection of the baguette as a “world treasure” by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Established in 2008, the UNESCO Lists of Intangible Cultural Heritage include oral traditions, social practices, performing arts, festive events, rituals, knowledge/practices concerning nature, and knowledge/skills to produce traditional crafts that are recognized by communities around the world as being representative of their cultural heritage. The items on the lists are passed down from generation to generation. They provide a sense of identity and community.

UNESCO has inscribed heritages from around the world, including Uilleann piping (Ireland), the Tahteeb stick game (Egypt), and the Yama, Hoko, and Yatai float festivals (Japan). These heritages help to nourish both cultural diversity and human creativity and, according to UNESCO, “can help to meet many contemporary challenges of sustainable development such as social cohesion, education, food security, health and sustainable management of natural resources.” In granting the list designation, UNESCO aims to ensure that intangible cultural heritages worldwide are better protected and awareness of them promoted.

As of this writing, there are 470 items corresponding to 117 countries on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists. And food plays a role, with a number of cultural foods, cuisines and practices represented. Curious to learn more, I dug a little deeper. Below you’ll find a snapshot of my food-related findings – one from each of the ten years that the lists have been in existence.

2008: Indigenous festivity dedicated to the dead (Mexico)

Photo courtesy of UNESCO

2009: Oku-noto no Aenokoto (Japan)

Photo courtesy of UNESCO

2010: Gastronomic meal of the French

Photo courtesy of UNESCO 

2011: Ceremonial Keşkek tradition (Turkey)

Photo courtesy of UNESCO

2012: Cherry festival in Sefrou (Morocco)

Photo courtesy of UNESCO

2013: Kimjang, making and sharing kimchi in the Republic of Korea

Photo courtesy of UNESCO

2014: Lavash, the preparation, meaning and appearance of traditional bread as an expression of culture in Armenia

Photo courtesy of UNESCO

2015: Arabic coffee, a symbol of generosity (United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar)

Photo courtesy of UNESCO

2016: Beer Culture in Belgium

Photo courtesy of UNESCO

2017: The Art of Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ (Italy)

Photo courtesy of UNESCO

As for whether the French baguette will be given the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage designation, we will have to wait and see. After the National Confederation of French Bakers submits its nomination, they must then wait for the annual meeting of the Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage. During this meeting, the Committee will evaluate this and other nominations and decide whether or not to inscribe the French baguette to the lists for safeguarding.

For more information about the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage lists visit https://ich.unesco.org/.

Sarah Faith is a student in the Gastronomy program and marketing and communications professional specializing in food and agricultural at CONE in Boston.

Course Spotlight: Food & Visual Culture

Images, whether still or moving, are all around us and have become an increasing part of the modern landscape. The result of this proliferation of visual culture is that our understanding of the world is progressively mediated by images. So, not only have the products of visual media become more and more a part of our lives, but vision and seeing have become even more important to how we know and understand the world. But the visual does more than simply present the world to us, it can shape how we understand and relate to that world. Studying media, therefore, is a way for us to study ourselves and better understand our culture, our social and political values and our ideologies.

Within the past decade there has been a notable growth in food-related cultural activity on TV, in films, books and digital media (Twitter, websites, blogs, video games, etc.). Food has become, both figuratively and quite literally, more visible in our lives.  But what is behind this increased focus on food? And, how has it affected people’s expectations around how food is produced and eaten? What affect, if any, has it had on the way we eat and cook?

The goal of this course is to examine depictions of food and cooking within visual culture and to analyze the ways in which they reflect and shape our understanding of the meaning of food. To this end, we will explore how food and cooking are depicted as expressions of culture, politics and group or personal identity via a multitude of visual materials, including, but not limited to: TV programs, magazines, cook books, food packaging, advertising, photography, online and digital media, and works of art.

A good portion of class time will be given to discussing the readings in combination with participatory, in-depth analysis of the visual material. The class will also take a field trip to a food photography studio as well as a culinary tour of Boston’s Chinatown.

MET ML 671, Food and Visual Culture, will be offered during Summer Term 1 (May 22 to June 29, 2018) and will meet on Mondays and Wednesdays from 5:30 to 9:00 PM. Registration information can be found here.

Celebrate Pi(e) Day with Boston Cream Pie!

On Wednesday, March 14, the Public Library of Brookline at Coolidge Corner will be hosting an event in celebration of Pi(e) Day, highlighting none other than New England’s Boston Cream Pie!

Join Justine, Adrian, and Mashfiq, three BU Gastronomy students, from 4:30-6:00 p.m. at 31 Pleasant Street in Brookline as they talk about the history and origin of this famous New England dessert and walk us through how it has changed and evolved through the decades. Come prepared to sample a few from local eateries! See below for more details.

Pi Day Celebration

A Brookline Eats! series event

Boston Cream Pie. Massachusetts’s state dessert. Not a pie at all, in fact, but two light-as-air sponge cake layers sandwiching a rich and delicate pastry cream, and topped with a thin glaze of chocolate. When made properly, the dessert seems to defy all laws of gravity.

As the story goes, the simultaneously simple and decadent cake was invented by a chef from Parker House Restaurant in Boston, Massachusetts in preparation for the restaurant’s 1856 grand opening. True of nearly every food-related origin story, there is much debate surrounding the question: where did the Boston Cream Pie come from? No matter which story you believe, it is hard to argue the Boston Cream Pie’s position as a quintessential New England dessert. Over the years, it has inspired a seemingly endless number of variations from donuts to an ice cream flavor to a local spin on beer. It’s easy to see that the Boston Cream Pie has come a long way since its debut.

Food and the Senses: Taste and Flavor Podcast

Image courtesy of maximumyield.com.

 

Frank Carrieri and Morgan Mannino were tasked with presenting on the topic of taste and flavor for Professor Metheny’s Food and the Senses course. Instead of doing a video presentation, the two decided to create a podcast. This format allowed them to incorporate sound bites from interviews as well as have a conversational approach to the subject matter.

The casual conversation and interviews helped them convey the complex ideas in a simplified form that others could easily digest, one of their goals for the project. They also used this approach to get others to think about how they experience flavor and taste when they eat and cook.

Click here to listen. 

 

Works Cited

Birnbaum, Molly. February 14, 2018. Interview by Morgan Mannino. Personal Interview. Boston, MA

Johnson, Carolyn. February 17, 2018. Interview by Frank Carrieri. Personal Interview. Boston, MA

McQuaid, John. 2015. Tasty: The Art and Science of What We Eat. chs 1-4 . New York: Scribner.

Shepherd, Gordon M. 2012. Neurogastronomy: How the Brain Creates Flavor and Why It Matters. Intro, chs 1-4, 13. New York: Columbia University Press.

Being Boston’s Brunch Guide

Written by Alex DiSchino. Photos by @BostonBrunchGuide.

As anyone with an Instagram can tell you, there are A LOT of people posting about food. Any Joe or Jane with a camera phone can easily fancy themselves an amateur food critic slash photojournalist slash influencer and reach their friends iPhones with just a few taps of a touchscreen… but there are a surprisingly few amount of people who get any REAL traction…rising above the ranks to become elevated to the status of influencers.

So while restaurateurs everywhere are constantly being pushed to step up their game so every plate that leaves the kitchen is perfectly cooked for every diner, they are also presented with a new challenge: make sure that each plate is camera ready! After all, it’s destined to be immortalized on the internet as Instagrammers across America aim to make their followers salivate.

With that said, the Cambridge Dictionary defines an influencer as “someone who affects or changes the way that other people behave, for example through their use of social media.”

I had the pleasure of spending a behind the scenes day with local Boston food instagrammer @BostonBrunchGuide to learn a little more about she gets people off the couch and into restaurants through the magic of social media.  And while the day started as an ordinary Q&A over coffee, what came next really surprised me….

First, let’s meet Danielle:

@BostonBrunchGuide has seen amazing growth – Danielle was telling me that she’s grown from a little over 3000 to almost 9000 followers in the past 12 months, earning about 15 new followers a day on average.

Q: Tell me about yourself: Where you from, what brought you to Boston and what do you do when you’re not eating brunch?

A: I’m originally from Connecticut but have lived in Boston for almost 10 years. I moved here to attend Northeastern University and ended up staying after graduation. While I wish I could survive off brunching alone, I actually work full time in finance.

Q: So when did you start @BostonBrunchGuide?

A: Fall or winter of 2014, but it wasn’t until the past year that I really became serious about it.

Q: What made you want to start a food instagram?

A: I wanted to start some sort of blog, I tried a couple other topics but when I started talking about food it stuck. Food is such a big part of my everyday, so it just came naturally.

Q: So why brunch?

A: It is hands down the best meal of the week. There are no rules. It allows chefs to be creative with menus and it’s the perfect time to catch up with friends. Who doesn’t want to go to brunch??

Q: What’s your favorite brunch item?

A: Eggs Benny. There are so many expressions. I am also a big fan of the new “table cake” trend which lets you get a bit of sweetness into the meal without committing fully.

Q: Umm…table cake?

A: Yep, like a super decadent pancake or waffle to share. For example, Lincoln Tavern in Southie serves a Fruity Pebbles Pancake. It’s not great for a full meal, but perfect to share.

Q: Awesome! Ok, now a harder question. Is there an expectation that your posts will be positive when a restaurant invites you to dine?

A: When I am invited into a restaurant, the expectation is definitely that I will post a photo of my experience– but I always note that I will only post if I truly like what I’ve tried. If I don’t like it, I won’t post it. I choose to focus on highlighting the positive experiences I’ve had. I’m not a food critic. With all the sponsored content on social media these days people don’t know what is real and that’s a big issue. If I post it, I truly liked it. If a restaurant has a problem with that, I’ll say thanks for the offer turn down the invite. Luckily, not many have.

Q: I can get behind that. Okay, a few more questions. What do you feel the most challenging aspect of starting @BostonBrunchGuide was?

A: The number one thing for me was patience. Some weeks can be really frustrating, when you’re producing content and getting less engagement than you thought you would.  There are so many new instagram accounts just getting started out there that ask “How do you get invited to these events?” or “How do you get free food?” There is an oversaturation of Boston food instagrams out there — and if you’re only in it for the free food, it is going to be hard, frustrating, and you probably won’t find much success. You have to be patient and build an audience that believes in what you’re doing and saying, and you have to be honest about it. Don’t get me wrong, the perks are amazing and I truly feel so lucky to be doing this, but it isn’t why I started BBG.

Q: And now that you have that audience, I noticed you recently launched a website and a blog, what sparked the expansion?

A: Instagram is such a visual platform. I was posting a lot and getting a lot of questions that I wanted to answer. “I’m coming in town for the weekend, where should I get brunch?” was a popular one. I wanted a place where I could engage with people away from Instagram and provide more content. After all, Instagram could go away any day with the way trends in social media work.

Q: Smart move. Okay, so last question – what are your goals for this year coming off a year of really great growth?

A: I’ve really had to start thinking about this hobby a lot more like a business. The more I’m engaging directly with restaurants rather than just going in and dining myself, the more I feel that I need a real brand, logo, etc. I also really want to expand the website to have a real “Brunch Guide.”

Q: Really great. I’m sure all of your followers will be excited for that. So where are you off to after this?

A: I was actually invited to Towne for brunch along with another instagrammer (Joey from @the_roamingfoodie)…wanna tag along?

I had no idea what I was in for!

We walked into Towne Stove and Spirits at 11 am on Saturday. They had just changed the brunch menu and had invited Danielle and Joey to come dine. The chef was so excited he decided to plan a little surprise. We were escorted upstairs into a private dining room and greeted by the Chef.

NOTE: Both Joey and Danielle noted that the following events never happen, so I guess I picked a great day to tag along.

Normally, Danielle sits at a table, orders her food, takes as many pictures as possible before it gets too cold. She scarfs it down hurriedly while editing a post and finishes just in time for the next dish. Today, she ate first…then was offered the whole menu.

What I originally expected to be a quick brunch became a truly remarkable afternoon. The head chef paraded new item after new item for the two to shoot and taste. My personal favorite was the waffles.

While the passive follower might be enamored by the fact that these two influencers got to try all this food for free “just for posting some pictures,” I got a chance to the see the real reason restaurants entertain from an outsider’s perspective.

Over the 3 hour escapade, Danielle provided an invaluable resource to the restaurant – not only by taking pictures of delicious food, but also by brainstorming new marketing ideas, educating the chef and manager on their consumers, and making approximately 9000 potential Boston local new diners crave a big stack of chicken and waffles. I have to say that’s certainly not a bad deal for Towne and really reinforced why we should absolutely expect to see big things from influencer marketers and @BostonBrunchGuide in the future.