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Scholarship of Design
The Raw and the Cooked The French Meal, or its Transubstantiation as Intangible Cultural Heritage
Phoebe Springstubb
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In 2003, UNESCO adopted the Convention for Safeguarding Intangible Cultural Heritage. In 2010, the French meal was added to the list. Directed at process, expression, gesture, intangible heritage attempts to fix meaning from characteristically plastic material—the “conviviality” and “pleasures of taste” that constitute a meal. Taking the French meal as a case study, this essay analyzes the sleight of hand the convention performs—the disappearance of the sensorial thing—through three theoretical lineages: legal definition, cultural history, and taste as aesthetic judgment and sensorial experience. Broadly considered are preservation projects that act as prospective histories yet are manifestly of their time, legitimizing certain national values through the soft power of cultural administration.

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