Ukraine: the culture of borscht enters the intangible cultural heritage of Unesco

Borscht, a soup made from beets and cabbage, has just been added to the list of intangible cultural heritage in danger by Unesco at the request of Ukraine.

© Photo taken by Alexey Ivanov, Wikimedia commons

Text by: RFI Follow

2 mins

It is a soup made from beets and cabbage, of which there are many recipes in eastern Europe: borscht.

In the context of the war in Ukraine, this dish becomes a diplomatic-cultural issue since indeed, at the request of Ukraine "the culture of borscht" has just made its entry on the list of intangible cultural heritage in danger of Unesco, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

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As early as last April, Ukraine contacted Unesco, believing that the tradition of borscht was threatened by the Russian invasion.

The file submitted by Kiev was studied in Paris, headquarters of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and this Friday "

 the culture of Ukrainian borscht

 " was officially included on the list of Cultural Heritage intangible at risk.

Victory is ours in the borscht war

" immediately reacted the Ukrainian Minister of Culture.

At Unesco, however, it is specified that it was not a question of making this traditional soup one of the issues in the conflict: " 

This convention does not seek to establish ownership or exclusivity over an element,

explains Tim Curtis, the Secretary General of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage

.

An element of intangible heritage can be expressed in several countries with different meanings and importance.

Of course, borscht is also practiced in other countries, including Russia and the convention does not say that it is exclusively Ukrainian.

 »

Difficult to digest all the same in Russia where the spokesman of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reacted by castigating the “ 

nationalism

 ” of Ukraine.

A social and cultural dimension around borscht

This entry on Unesco's list of intangible cultural heritage in danger is in fact the recognition of a way of life: “ 

Through this soup, it is its cultural and social significance that is recognized,

recalls Tim Curtis

.

It is in a nomination file submitted by Ukraine that she explains that borscht, which has many variations across the country and in all regions, is a symbol of identity and connection between all communities in Ukraine.

 »

Cultural practices that people need to feel good, and which nourish their well-being, believes the secretary general of the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Unesco.

He recalls that this is also what is called living heritage, intangible cultural heritage: “

 And all of this is threatened by war and by the dispersal of people who have to go to other countries.

»

To read: The bombing of the Mariupol theater in Ukraine, "a war crime" for Amnesty International

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  • Ukraine

  • Gastronomy

  • Culture

  • Unesco

  • Diplomacy

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