Cool Food Culture Around the World


UNESCO created the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage as a means of recognizing significant local customs and traditions, and it recently added 46 new items, ranging from Peking opera in China to traditional skills of carpet weaving in Iran. Regarding food, the additions of the gastronomic meal of the French and traditional Mexican cuisine are getting most of the love in news reports, but a closer look at the full list contains several other noteworthy culinary traditions.

The gingerbread craft from northern Croatia is so integral to the country that the cookie has become one of the most recognizable symbols of national identity. Who knew? What’s more, the concept of a free-market economy seems to have not taken hold, for gingerbread makers will only operate within a certain area so as not to tread on the toes of another craftsperson.

Belgium celebrates the end of winter with Krakelingen and Tonnekensbrand, a “bread and fire feast.” There’s a parade and other such gallantry, but one of the most intriguing parts of the festivities occurs when religious and secular authorities drink wine from a 16th-century silver goblet containing tiny live fish!

The Mediterranean diet gets a nod, too, but only in Spain, Greece, Italy, and Morocco. Too bad for everyone who lives in Cyprus, Tunisia, Lebanon, Israel, or one of any of the other countries bordering the sea — your part of the Mediterranean clearly doesn’t count.