Best UNESCO-Listed Foods (Including the French Baguette)
Food is culture, so it's no surprise to find culinary traditions included in UNESCO's Intangible Cultural Heritage List. Besides protecting these practices, the list serves as a guide for travelers hungry to try some of the world's most mouthwatering dishes.
Here are the ten best UNESCO-listed foods on the planet, ranked from delicious to would-eat-every-day. We're including specific foods rather than general cultures, so you won't see note-worthy items like Belgian beer and traditional Mexican gastronomy here — though we still encourage you to enjoy them as often as possible!
Countries: Algeria, Egypt, Mauritania, Morocco, Tunisia
Couscous is a staple of Northern African countries that has become widely popular worldwide, thanks partly to immigration.
It consists of small balls of semolina wheat and can be made in countless different ways. Couscous as a specific dish is steamed with vegetables, dried nuts, herbs and often meats. Its fragrant smell is difficult to resist and will be a highlight of any visit to the region.
This beautiful gingerbread craft tradition is not yet well known, but that is changing as Croatia becomes more and more popular. You'll find the baked goods around the country, especially in the north.
Licitars are usually formed into the shape of a heart and make for (literally) sweet gifts on special occasions. While colors for the icing vary, red is the most popular one. Buy a bunch for yourself, but bring a few for your family as souvenirs as well.
Every Haitian eats joumou on Jan. 1, which also happens to be the country's independence day. Haiti is incredibly proud of its history as the first nation to fight for freedom against Europe in the Americas.
This tasty soup, made with pumpkin or squash, was only enjoyed by French plantation owners, who refused to share it with slaves and servants. Eating it is a delicious symbol of defiance and a reminder of hard-earned independence.
Plov (or palov) is Uzbekistan's most important dish. Made in one pot, it is made with rice, meat, vegetables and spices, though each family's recipe varies. The food makes an appearance at every important event.
It's also customarily served to guests as a hearty dish that's filling and warming. Trust us: You haven't seen Uzbekistan until you try it.
6. Turkish Coffee
We won't say who has the best coffee in the world. But we will say that Turkish coffee culture is unique enough to warrant a place in UNESCO's coveted list.
The drink was brought to the area — then the Ottoman Empire — in the 15th century and quickly took hold of the population. Turkish coffee (or kahvesi) is thicker and sweeter than most other versions. It is made with finely ground beans and boiled in sugar (and sometimes spices).
For a proper experience, make sure it is served from a traditional pot called a cezve and accompanied by a sugar cube.
Countries: North Korea and South Korea
Koreans (both in the North and South) usually eat kimchi with every single meal. The intensely flavored fermented cabbage dish is the most essential side after rice. Traditionally, kimchi provided much-needed vitamin E in the harsh winter months in the peninsula. But it is consumed year-round. (Though there is a non-spicy white kimchi that is sometimes served in the summer.)
In November, there is a tradition called gimjang in which families gather around to make kimchi for the entire winter. Though people in the city partake in this less and less, it is still an important ritual in the countryside.
The national dish of Jordan is recognized by UNESCO because of its significance to Jordanian society. Mansaf (or al-mansaf) is made with chicken or lamb cooked in yogurt and poured over white rice. It's served in a communal tray and meant to be shared between a group.
You'll find it at important events like religious days of observance, weddings and funerals. It was once used when peace treaties were signed between different tribes. Yes, this dish is so delicious that it quite literally brought about peace.
Leave it to the French to create the most delicious bread in the entire world. Who came up with it and how? Nobody knows, but most historians agree that it's been around since the 18th century.
The simple bread is absolute perfection: crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside and long enough to be enjoyed throughout the day. You can eat it on its own, buttered, or as part of a sandwich. Any variation is valid.
French people absolutely go around town with baguettes under their arms. And we would do the same if we lived in France. A baguette a day keeps sadness at bay.
2. Thieboudienne (Ceebu Jen)
Senegal's national dish, thieboudienne (or ceebu jen) is one of the most delicious foods in all of Africa. There are many variations, but at its base, it's made with rice, vegetables and fish. Sure, it sounds simple, but the best things often are.
If you're invited into a Senegalese home, there's a big chance that this is what you'll be served. Ceebu jen is served in a pot and eaten with your hands or bread. Which, in our opinion, always makes things taste better.
1. Neapolitan Pizza
While every food on here is absolutely delicious, none can compete with the perfection of Neapolitan pizza.
Originating in Naples, the pizza can be either marinara or margherita. Both are fairly basic, but that doesn't take away from the strength of their flavor. In fact, we'd argue that it enhances it. If we had to choose one single pizza to eat for all our lives, this would definitely be our choice.