French cuisine, exalted by chefs as a world heritage treasure

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Their battlefield is filled, they know, with hidden land mines and cunning enemies.

So around a half-dozen French chefs and culinary experts from the ad hoc "French Mission for Food Heritage and Cultures" are preparing for war with weapons they know best.

They ate and drank their way through a three-hour strategy session recently to help their country face the daunting task before it: to persuade the United Nations to declare French gastronomy a world treasure. The designation gives a global imprimatur — and global promotion and protection — to the finest cultural expressions around the world.

So by the time the roasted figs, the wine-macerated prunes, the chocolate mousse and the Earl Grey sorbet arrived in the private dining room of Guy Savoy, a chef with three Michelin stars, the men were in deep discussion about the magic of their country's cuisine.

"It's everything!" Savoy said.

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