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Foods from UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List: Community edition

It’s safe to say that most of us consider food as part of culture, but how far would you go? Did you know that Turkish coffee can be used to test how much someone loves you? Read more about it below!

Photo by Louis Hansel on Unsplash

UNESCO world heritage has a category for culture relating to food (and drinks!), and the organization considers some of it to be an important part of national heritage that needs to be protected. I personally am very enthusiastic about cuisine from around the world, which is why I thought it would be wonderful to get to know our community of editors by asking them about their countries represented on the list from UNESCO. Let’s find out more about the Art of Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ in Italy, traditional Mexican cuisine and Turkish coffee culture tradition!

Art of Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’

Photo by Nik Owens on Unsplash

The art of the Neapolitan ‘Pizzaiuolo’ was born in Naples, which is the capital of the region of Campania in Italy. When I visited Naples a few years ago, I set a goal for myself to enjoy the local pizza as much as possible (and believe me, I did!). Our lovely Chiara Papaccio from the Italian community is from Naples, which is why I was so happy she gave me a crash course in culinary practice from her hometown. I agree with her when she says that we could be talking about pizza forever!

Chiara shared that you can become an UNESCO-recognized pizzaiuolo (pizza chef) anywhere, as long as the course is certified by AVPN. This organization protects the authenticity of Neapolitan pizza. “There are courses even in Japan!”, she says, and continues: “Although the pizzaiuolo profession recognized by UNESCO is described as the one following Naples-specific pizza-making rules and local ingredients, there is not just one type of pizza. Some prefer the Roman style, which is thin and has a crust that’s crispy. Others (like Chiara herself) are in love with Neapolitan pizza, which is softer, fluffier — it just melts in one’s mouth!”

Tips from locals

By Chiara
How do you know if the pizza is good? “If you go to a new pizza place, try the simplest one on the menu — a pizzaiuolo that knows and respects the craft will be able to shine with just a handful of ingredients, no fancy gimmicks required!”

Where to find the best pizza in Naples? Pizza in Naples tends to be good pretty much everywhere you go, but just to make sure you get the top experience:

- Check if the restaurant has a sticker of authenticity on the door, like this page has
- Try to stay off the main streets — go for the alleys, that’s where locals visit the best pizza places.

By Alberto
Alberto Interdonato from our Italian community was very kind and put together a list of dos and don’ts of pizza, so consider this a beginners guide!


- add a leaf of fresh basil on top of a “Margherita” pizza gives the perfect final touch and amazing smell;
- make sure that the tomato sauce or tomatoes are of the best available quality;
- always check how it’s made: a real pizza should be baked in a wood oven.


- never ever use ketchup instead of tomatoes/tomato sauce;
- pizza doesn’t need to be dipped into “marinara” sauce or similar;
- use cheese that isn’t even related to mozzarella.

Traditional Mexican cuisine — ancestral, ongoing community culture, the Michoacán paradigm

Photo by Max Nayman on Unsplash

When we talk about traditional Mexican cuisine, we talk about much more than the recipes and ingredients, but the community of ancestors and their way of farming, their skills and rituals. Unique farming techniques called milpas and chinampas were inscribed as part of traditional Mexican cuisine in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. A group of female cooks and others who follow the same practice are found in the State of Michoacán and across Mexico.

I am very grateful to Edgar Espinoza for telling me that he and his friends were happy to put together a little write up about their beloved Mexican food! ”Mexican food is a window into the country’s history and its geographic, cultural and ethnic diversity,” he tells me. “Although there are some symbolic national dishes (such as tacos, mole, tamales, enchiladas, pozole and many, many others), the most defining characteristic of Mexican gastronomy is its incredible diversity, and some of its many variants, from regions/states such as Oaxaca, Yucatán, Puebla, Chiapas, etc, could be worthy of this denomination on their own.”

Tips from a local

By Edgar
Which food to definitely try?

-chiles en nogada: a beautiful dish created to celebrate Mexican independence
-mole: a chocolate and chili based sauce from pre-Hispanic origins that can have more than 30 ingredients in some of its regional variants

Turkish coffee culture and tradition

Photo by Ricardo Díaz on Unsplash

Turkish coffee — both the preparation and enjoying it while socializing — is a key part of Turkish culture and traditions, which is why it only makes sense that it was inscribed in the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity in 2013.

The roasted coffee beans are ground to a very fine powder, which is added to a coffee pot with cold water and sugar, then slowly heated on a stove. It is served in small cups with some water on the side. The coffee drinking illustrates the importance of friendship and hospitality in Turkey, as by the looks of it Turkish coffee is not meant to be enjoyed alone.

The grounds left in the empty cup are often used to tell a person’s fortune. Turkish coffee is regarded as part of Turkish cultural heritage: it is celebrated in literature and songs, and is an indispensable part of ceremonial occasions.

Tips from a local

By Özgün
The first comment from Özgün Erdoğan, who is from our own wonderful Turkish community was “yes, we love Turkish coffee!” What a great start! What is the best way to prepare it according to Özgün? It is best if you prepare it slowly at low heat. It makes it more frothy and delicious!

The best time to have it? The best time for coffee is after meals and with crowded family or friends gatherings. Turkish coffee has a traditional place too. For example, in the event of a couples’ families meeting before the wedding in Turkey, the bride-to-be serves Turkish coffee to her husband-to-be and his family. She prepares coffee normally for families but for the husband-to-be she puts salt into coffee instead of sugar. That is to test how much he loves her.

And the best side dish is definitely Turkish delight!


Is there some special food from your region that you’d like to share with our community? Don’t forget to comment below!

Foods from UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List: Community edition was originally published in Unbabel Community on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.