The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added a popular Lebanese flatbread ‘Manouche’ to its intangible cultural heritage list for 2023.
The food item “Manouche, an emblematic culinary practice in Lebanon” was approved on December 6 during the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage ongoing meeting in Kasane in Botswan.
UNESCO described it as, “the quintessential Lebanese breakfast, Manouche is a flatbread prepared in homes and specialized bakeries and enjoyed by people of all backgrounds.”
“The dough is shaped with fingertips and adorned with a blend of thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, salt, and olive oil.”
The flatbread is often garnished with soft cheese, 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,” UNESCO added.
Manouche remains a cost-effective food option in a country grappling with a severe economic crisis since 2019.
“The preparation of Manouche for sale in small bakeries also contributes to local economic development,” UNESCO added.
This year’s heritage list includes Arab traditions like the dabke from Palestine, traditional glassblowing from Syria, and harees dish from Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Oman.