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A baker prepares traditional Lebanese manoushe flatbreads, at a bakery in Tabarja north of Beirut.
A baker prepares traditional Lebanese manoushe flatbreads, at a bakery in Tabarja north of Beirut.
UNESCO recognizes Lebanese flatbread manoushe

The UN cultural agency on Wednesday said it was adding Lebanon’s iconic flatbread, manoushe, to its list of intangible cultural heritage. The Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of Intangible Cultural Heritage, convening in Botswana since Monday, approved the inscription of the renowned bread “topped with a mixture of thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, salt and olive oil”. “The quintessential Lebanese breakfast, manoushe is a flatbread prepared in homes and specialized bakeries, and enjoyed by people of all backgrounds,” UNESCO said.

The flatbread is often topped with a soft cheese called labneh, as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and mint leaves. “While preparing the dough, the practitioners pray that it will rise, with Muslims reciting the beginning of Fatiha and Christians reciting several prayers and making the sign of the cross before letting the dough rest,” the UN agency added. “The manoushe is eaten across communities, reflecting the symbolic idea of living together among the Lebanese,” said Bahjat Rizk, Lebanon’s cultural attache at UNESCO.

“The bakeries that prepare this dish are spread throughout the country,” he told AFP. Manoushe remains one of the least expensive food options in a country struggling from a severe economic crisis since 2019. “The preparation of manoushe for sale in small bakeries also contributes to local economic development,” UNESCO said. A popular street food, manoushe can also be found in bakeries around the world thanks to the Lebanese diaspora. Lebanon submitted its application to UNESCO to inscribe manoushe in March 2022. — AFP

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