Tunisia wants harissa UNESCO’s world heritage list

The application, officially titled “The Harissa: know-how and culinary and social practices” was delivered to UNESCO’s Paris headquarters by Tunisia’s delegate to the organisation Ghazi Ghrairi.
Sunday 18/10/2020
Tunisia Harissa paste  and red peppers. (TAW)
Tunisia Harissa paste and red peppers. (TAW)

TUNIS - Tunisia has submitted an application for its famous harissa pepper to be included on UNESCO’s representative list of intangible cultural heritage, as it seeks broader recognition for the culinary staple.

The application, officially titled “The Harissa: know-how and culinary and social practices” was delivered to UNESCO’s Paris headquarters by Tunisia’s delegate to the organisation Ghazi Ghrairi, the country’s official press agency TAP reported.

The manager of a cooperative for making harissa paste poses boxes of the produce in  Menzel Mehiri in Kairouan governorate some 200 kilometres south of Tunis. (AFP)
The manager of a cooperative for making harissa paste poses boxes of the produce in  Menzel Mehiri in Kairouan governorate some 200 kilometres south of Tunis. (AFP)

Ghrairi told TAP that a UNESCO representative who heads the cultural heritage department was impressed with the quality of the Tunisian application and appreciated the initiative.

Fawzi Mahfoudh, director general of Tunisia’s National Heritage Institute (INP), said the file was put together by a team of hard-working experts and researchers with the support of civil society groups, particularly the Grouping of Food Canning Industries (GICA).

Tunisian rural women prepare red peppers which are used in the making of harissa paste. (AFP)
Tunisian rural women prepare red peppers which are used in the making of harissa paste. (AFP)

Tunisian Harissa is a spicy chilli pepper paste made of a unique blend of roasted red peppers and local herbs and spices. Often described as “the national condiment of Tunisia,” it is used to spice or accompany a wide range of dishes throughout the country. Tunisia is also the world’s largest exporter of the paste, sending out tens of thousands of tonnes per year.

Application cover of “Tunisian Harissa,” request officially submitted to UNESCO. (TAP)
Application cover of “Tunisian Harissa,” request officially submitted to UNESCO. (TAP)

UNESCO’s list of intangible cultural heritage recognises 508 elements of some 122 countries, with the aim of promoting their cultural significance and ensuring their protection.