Monday, July 22, 2019

Couscous: Intangible Cultural Heritage UNESCO Application

Image result for couscousEnvironmental & Science Education
Edward Hessler

In April, four countries--Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, and Tunisia--filed a joint submission to have Couscous recognized for UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage status. Two of the countries, Algeria and Morocco have a long history of bitter rivalry, described as an "endless cold war."

The Wiki entry provides information about this dish formed of tiny, hard pellets made from durum wheat semolina which are steamed and served with a stew on top. The stew recipes vary and the Wiki  includes entries for Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Mauritania is not mentioned specifically but this Wiki entry on Mauritania includes a mouth-watering photograph of a camel meat couscous on a very large platter. There meals are regularly served from large communal dishes.

UNESCO defines intangible cultural heritage as "traditional, contemporary, and living at the same time; inclusive; representative; and community-based." These phrases/terms are explained at the UNESCO site.

France 24 reported that "the application will be examined at the next meeting of UNESCO's World Heritage Committee in Columbia's capitol Bogota in December."

Will a new world begin following this meeting? I think of a poem by poet Laureate of the United States, Joy Harjo, a poem which includes beginning and ending. "At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks."

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