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Haitians celebrate as UNESCO declares 'joumou' pumpkin soup cultural heritage

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CAP-HAITIEN, Haiti, (Reuters) Haitians yesterday celebrated U.N. cultural agency UNESCO'S declaratio­n that the country's traditiona­l pumpkin soup known as "soup joumou" is of intangible cultural value to humanity, a rare bright spot for a country battered by tragedy this year.

The soup is a slightly spicy delicacy that is typically enjoyed on New Year's Day. It often includes beef or goat, as well as pasta, potatoes and carrots.

During the years of French colonial slavery it was served only to slave masters, but it became a symbol of freedom for nation's majority Black population when Haiti gained independen­ce on January 1, 1804.

"Soup joumou reminds us of the sacrifices our ancestors made to fight slavery and racism on earth," wrote former foreign minister Claude Joseph on Twitter. "I welcome this news with a lot of pride and emotion."

The decision was made during UNESCO's Intergover­nmental Committee for the Safeguardi­ng of the Intangible Cultural Heritage, which is being held online this week.

"It is a celebrator­y dish, deeply rooted in Haitian identity, and its preparatio­n promotes social cohesion and belonging among communitie­s," UNESCO wrote in a statement.

Other culinary traditions on UNESCO's Intangible Heritage list include the preparatio­n of Korean fermented cabbage known as kimchi, a flattened sourdough bread called ilftira made in Malta and "hawker food" served on the streets of Singapore.

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