The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has added a popular Lebanese flatbread ‘Manouche’ to its intangible cultural heritage list for 2023.

The quintessential Lebanese breakfast, Al-Man’ouché is a flatbread prepared in homes and specialized bakeries, and enjoyed by people of all backgrounds. The dough is indented using the fingertips and topped with a mixture of thyme, sumac, toasted sesame seeds, salt and olive oil.

Once cooked, a second garnish can be added, such as soft cheese (labne), tomatoes, cucumbers, olives and mint leaves. Al-Man’ouché is prepared by women for domestic consumption and by men, women or all members of the same family in small Man’ouché bakeries.

While preparing the dough, the practitioners pray that it will rise, with Muslims reciting the beginning of Fatiha and Christians reciting several prayers and making the sign of the cross before letting the dough rest. The techniques of preparing Man’ouché and its toppings are usually transmitted informally from parents to children. When members of the same family participate in making al-Man’ouché, there is a division of tasks according to gender.

The aroma of al-Man’ouché is a strong identifying factor that evokes traditional morning gatherings, or sobhhiyé, key moments of social interaction. The preparation of al-Man’ouché for sale in small bakeries also contributes to local economic development.