All For One Not One For All

05 Mar 2008

A call last week for French gastronomy to be added to UNESCO’s world heritage list, has been rebutted by the Slow Food movement’s president Carlo Petrini, who argued that it is wrong to try to rank world cuisines.

‘Why should French gastronomy be considered better than any other?’ asked Petrini. ‘To make gastronomy part of world heritage is an excellent idea, but it should apply to all countries, not just France!’ he said in response to the French plan, announced by President Nicolas Sarkozy.

While Petrini agrees that there is no doubt that France has made a remarkable contribution to creating high-level gastronomy, he believes that establishing a hierarchy between cuisines is unnecessary.

He argues that, instead, we should concentrate on preserving the culinary traditions and gastronomic cultures which exist all round the world and which could be threatened by the standardization of food.

In 2006, a group of top French chefs and academics formed a group to lobby for the recognition of French gastronomy by UNESCO. The group includes famed French chefs such as Paul Bocuse, Alain Ducasse and Michel Guerard. They will present their bid next year, with the verdict due in 2010.

Mexico has already tried to have its culinary tradition recognized by UNESCO, but was turned down in 2005. According to the French group, Italy also intends put forward a similar bid. French chef Andre Daguin, head of the UMIH catering federation, argued that, ‘France is the only country with the most high-quality food produce and in sufficient quantity’.

Bess Mucke


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