UNESCO Lists Couscous as Intangible Cultural Heritage

The popularity of this much-loved North African dish is ever-increasing.

In March 2019, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, and Mauritania presented a joint bid to the United Nations to inscribe couscous in UNESCO’s list of the world’s Intangible cultural heritage (ICH).

Today, December 16, couscous clinched a spot on the list.

The Permanent Delegation of the Kingdom of Morocco to UNESCO posted a tweet announcing the news, in line with the 15th session of the UNESCO Intergovernmental Committee for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage running from 14 to 19 December.

UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage represents inherited traditions, historic places, buildings, monuments, and other elements of human intellectual and artistic creativity from the past and present, all over the world.

In 2016, Algeria announced that it would apply for the Intangible Cultural Heritage status for couscous, which sparked outrage among other Maghrebi countries that laid claim to the dish.

The four countries agreed then to jointly submit the listing to UNESCO and claim couscous as “theirs,” as this staple dish is integral to the cultural heritage of each. While the origin of couscous is uncertain, it is widely believed to have originated from the Berbers of Morocco and northern Algeria.

Each of the Maghreb countries has a special way of making couscous, which gives the dish a flavor of uniqueness unlike any other.

This delicious dish is typically made from crushed durum wheat with meat and vegetables.



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