France's bid to have its cuisine enshrined as a Unesco world cultural treasure appears heading for the chop after a top official of the United Nations body all but wrote it off.
....Cherif Khaznadar, president of the Unesco assembly of states that have signed the convention to safeguard "intangible" cultural heritage, said that gastronomy does not fit the criteria.
Unesco began drawing up its list of "intangible" cultural treasures, including dance and carnival, in 2003.
....Since France announced its bid, several other countries have protested that their cuisine is equally unique, in particular Italy.
"Italian gastronomy takes priority," said top Italian cook Massimo Mori in a recent duel with French celebrity chef Guy Savoy over the issue.
"In the Middle Ages, our merchants imported spices, salt, sugar, and Venice invented courtly high gastronomy."
"Be objective," hit back Mr Savoy.
"We have an infinitely superior variety of specialities, without even mentioning wines. What real dessert do you offer besides tiramisu?"
But Italy has now teamed up with Spain, Greece and Morocco to get Unesco to pick the traditional "Mediterranean diet," whose abundant use of olive oil coupled with moderate wine consumption is said to be the healthiest in the world.