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Couscous is a staple across the region, often likened to rice or noodles in parts of AsiaImage: Antonio Gravante/chromorange/picture alliance

Couscous joins intangible heritage list

Seerat Chabba
December 17, 2020

Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania's joint entry of couscous has earned a place on the UN agency's list of the world's Intangible Cultural Heritage. It has been hailed as an "example of international cooperation."


The United Nations on Wednesday added the Berber dish of couscous to its Intangible Cultural Heritage list after four countries submitted the entry to UNESCO. 

Despite major differences, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia and Mauritania got together to highlight their shared love for the dish, which joined Zambia's Budima dance, Spain's wine horses, Singapore's hawker culture and other new entrants on UNESCO's list of intangible heritage.

"Traditions define us. Our differences don't matter, we are one. The knowledge, practices and traditions related to the preparation and consumption of couscous have just been inscribed on the list of intangible heritage," the UN agency said on social media.

Congratulating the four countries, UNESCO hailed it as "an example of international cooperation."

"This is an occasion to celebrate culture, to celebrate diversity and especially to celebrate all the things that unite us," the agency added.

Usually prepared from wheat or barley, couscous can also be made using maize or millet ground into semolina. It is then rolled into small balls, soaked and steamed repeatedly. While it may taste bland by itself, couscous is served with a range of other delicacies like spicy stews, meat, fish or vegetables, which make for a hearty meal. 

Also called seksu, kusksi or kseksu, couscous is a staple across the region, often likened to rice or noodles in parts of Asia.

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