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Lebanon’s flatbread gains UNESCO nod

BEIRUT (AFP) – The United Nations (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 specialised 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.

“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.

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

A traditional Lebanese manoushe flatbread topped with mint, tomatoes and olives on the counter of a bakery in Beirut, Lebanon. PHOTO: AFP