The UNESCO cultural agency announced on Wednesday the inclusion of Lebanon’s iconic flatbread, man’oushe, on its list of intangible cultural heritage.

The UN cultural agency said on Wednesday that it was adding Lebanon’s iconic flatbread, man’oushe, 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, man’oushe, 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 man’oushe is eaten across communities, reflecting the symbolic idea of living together among the Lebanese,” said Bahjat Rizk, Lebanon’s cultural attaché at UNESCO.

“The bakeries that prepare this dish are spread throughout the country,” he told the media.

Man’oushe remains one of the least expensive food options in a country struggling with a severe economic crisis since 2019.

“The preparation of man’oushe for sale in small bakeries also contributes to local economic development,” UNESCO said.

A popular street food, man’oushe can also be found in bakeries around the world thanks to the Lebanese diaspora.

Lebanon submitted its application to UNESCO to inscribe man’oushe in March 2022.

Khalil Wakim, with AFP

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