Intangible Treasures

I read with interest this weekend that French bakers want the baguette declared an intangible treasure by UNESCO. It seems the small bakeries in France are being driven out of business by large, commercial bakeries that mass produce a product the traditional bakers  dismissively call “bread sticks”.  They hope the designation will help protect the baguette and the art that goes into making them,  and draw attention to what is truly a national treasure.  They are in competition  with a wine festival and the zinc roofs of Paris. The French Minister of Culture will decide which she will recommend to UNESCO this year.

Intangible treasures are oral traditions, performing arts, social practices, traditional craft methods, and rituals. has a list of them.  They are absolutely fascinating.  I didn’t see a list from the US. I suppose many of our traditions and cultural practices were brought here by immigrants and aren’t exclusive to our country. I would have thought Jazz music would be on the list, but perhaps it isn’t considered fragile or endangered.

Check out the intangible treasures on the UNESCO list. What ones catch your eye?  What would you nominate for the US list?  How is your baguette technique?


44 thoughts on “Intangible Treasures”

  1. i need to work on my spelt version
    they taste off
    i love baguettes
    thanks for the thought
    i will start taking a loaf with my pellagronp and thermos of earl gray daily on my door dash route

    Liked by 2 people

  2. This just sent me down a rabbit hole for the last hour and a half. One of the items on the list pertained to Dutch windmills and watermills and that reminded me about the molen(mill) database.

    My collection of images from 1904 included several good images of windmills. It was a subject that obviously appealed to the photographer. In researching them, I discovered this project to catalog all the mills, including ones that were no longer there. After more than 100 years and two world wars, a lot of the things in my photos are no longer there.

    At the time I had contacted the managers of the database and offered my images, which they happily accepted. But I couldn’t remember exactly the name of the database—it’s been perhaps 10 years—and so I had to try a few search terms before I found it. I just wanted to see that the images I contributed were still there. They are. I have a couple more mill images that have been subsequently identified so I may have to contact them again.

    I used to make baguettes fairly often but haven’t for years. I always had the problem of them flattening out too much—probably my dough wasn’t firm enough—and resorted to a pan, which I still have, with trough-like channels for shaping the loaf.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. This is rather fascinating. So many things that don’t look like a big deal but really are rooted rather deep. We’ve just started watching the new version of ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ and Siegfried says to James about how the short horn cattle are the essence of Yorkshire. (paraphrasing)
    It’s how “in person” education is still important at the college level and it CAN’T / SHOULDN’T be all online. Numbers be damned, it IS still important.
    Perhaps going through this we’re all learning things and figuring out priorities.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. We have been watching that, too. What a pure pleasure it us. I am glad there will be a Season 2. I loved those books when they came out in the late 70s. My dad, as a short horn breeder in Iowa, would have loved that show and Siegfried’s opinion of the Short Horn breed. But then, on my father’s gravestone, there is an etching of his prize-winning Short Horn, “Whitey.”

      Liked by 5 people

      1. I’m enjoying the series, too, although the series produced from 1978 to 1980 has a firm claim on my heart. I thought the casting for that series was perfect (except for Helen). That series gave us a wonderful Siegfried, Tristan and James. But the new series is vastly better at using local countryside and interiors, and the new Helen seems better.

        Liked by 3 people

  4. RIse and Shine, Baboons,

    Lists of lists are something that leave me frustrated-having to scan miles of visual detail is torture so no more of that.

    Regarding baguettes and any other kind of baking or cooking, i find a recipe without context to be kind of meaningless. I found when my Grandma taught me to cook, it was the “being there” with her and her commentary that taught me the “intangible treasure” of the experience. I have tried making baguettes. It is a simple recipe with five ingredients: flour, water, yeast, salt, and 1/2 t sugar to feed the yeast. Yet mine did not taste like a really good baguette. YouTube or baking shows will tell you it is the precise rising time, then the water you place in the oven to crisp the crust that really makes it a baguette.

    So here is my Grandma’s context and commentary about making egg coffee which she taught me:

    Get out the big coffee urn (this is the old fashioned, speckled urn found in church kitchens). Measure a gallon of water and set aside. Measure 1 1/2 c. coffee into the bottom of the urn. Take two eggs and crack into the bottom. Smash the egg shell and throw that in, too. Pour the water in and set on the stove to boil.

    Me: Eewww. That is icky.

    Grandma: It looks icky, but it makes coffee taste so smooth. Smash up the egg shell more.

    Me: Egg shells?

    Grandma: The calcium soaks up the acid in the coffee. You have to watch it. You don’t want it to boil more than about 10 minutes or it will get too strong and bitter.

    Grandma: When you pour the coffee don’t pour the couple inches at the bottom because that is where the grounds and eggs shells are. Throw that into the compost bucket. I’ll take it back to the farm garden.

    The intangible culture of anything is the most important ingredient that makes all the other ingredients taste right.

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I don’t understand. The fact turkeys talk back is endangered? I can make my chickens respond. I don’t have any ducks. The guineas make a pretty neat whistling noise sometimes… is that endangered?
      Do I need to be registering my chickens or something?

      Liked by 3 people

  5. We have three means of making baguettes-a perforated metal pan, a ceramic baker with a cover, and a ceramic baking stone. Husband likes Sour dough versions.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will say to you that a lot of the family farmers will say that they are not sorry to see their farms go–farmers like Ben are very devoted to it, but not all that inherit these farms want them. They are so much work and require so much capital. The farms are often worth a lot of money, but the farmers are frequently cash poor. Farming requires a vast amount of knowledge in so many areas: IT, finance, and, oh yeah, growing stuff.

      I have known 4 people who purchased their family’s farms out of obligation but they did not want the farm. They were frustrated.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. There was a moving talk many years ago on public radio. A man (sorry, don’t remember his name) was saddened to see so many family farms sold off. He claimed that whenever a farmer gave up on that lifestyle and moved to town, precious cultural knowledge about that land was lost forever.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. My baguette technique is nonexistent. I have baked precious little of anything in my adult life. As a teen I dabbled in a few assorted cakes, pastries, and French bread, but not enough to ever feel confident as a baker. I have never baked a pie, so I’m awestruck by people like VS, Jacque, and my friends Helen and Mellissa, who are absolutely fearless when it comes to tackling that art.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I thought it was interesting how many countries claim some kind of craft with glass beads. I hope they don’t have to duke it out. I haven’t made baguettes for years. Being a single mom kind of whooped bread baking out of me a bit when YA was younger. In fact I gave away the baguette pan a couple of years ago. Most of my bread these days is done in a bread machine.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. On the list I saw, I noted that neither Denmark, Iceland, or Sweden had anything listed, whereas both Norway and Finland do.


  8. To go back to the original proposition of this post, that artisan baguettes are threatened by those produced by big commercial bakers, if there is a difference that can be perceived by their customers, they have little to worry about. The problem with displacements like this is that, if the customer can’t tell the difference, there is no difference.

    People in the design community experienced this when the tools of design became accessible via the desktop computer. Anyone could create a brochure, a business card, an advertisement. The design might be horrible but only if you are equipped to tell the difference.

    Liked by 2 people

  9. What is endangered in the US?
    30,573 documented lies in four years from XXXX President 45.
    The Big Lie that XXXX 45 won is believed by 70 % of people who voted for him.
    Sorry to derail with politics but this bothers me greatly.

    Liked by 3 people

  10. I will have to look at this another time – I am aware of so many indigenous languages dying – even ones like Welsh are losing steam. Makes me sad

    I should try a baguette during our isolation, I suppose, but i haven’t made a yeasted bread for years, even my Christmas wreathe. Soon?


  11. OT: Our friend W. is moving from asst. living to the nursing home wing of his complex. After a few weeks of Physical Therapy – to hopefully regaining his ability to live independently – it’s now clear that won’t happen. We are spending this week clearing his apartment of the things he won’t be taking to his new 1-room dwelling. I’m sure there is a blog post in it somewhere, but I may be on the Trail sporadically this week.


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