ANKARA — In a tribute to the multicultural cuisine of Turkey's quake-hit Hatay province, the European Union on Monday granted protection status to the province's famous sweet treat, kanafeh (or kunefe) — a Mesopotamian dessert made with thin strings of crispy, golden-colored dough held together by unsalted gooey cheese and drizzled with thick sugar syrup.
The EU announced it included “Antakya Kunefesi” on its list of some 1,600 protected cuisine delights from across the world by granting it the status of Protected Geographical Indication (PGI). The status is a recognition of the link between a certain food, agricultural product or wine with a particular geographical origin in a boost to its reputation.
“The recipe and production skills have been transferred from one generation to the next generation based on master-apprenticeship relationship,” the EU said, adding that both cheese and dough used in the sweet “is very unique."
Turkey’s EU Ambassador Faruk Kaymakci hailed the decision on Twitter, saying the sweet is now the ninth Turkish food to be granted the status.
“Antakya Künefesi”, is our 9th registered 🇹🇷 product in the 🇪🇺EU as a protected geographical indication after “Gaziantep Baklavası”, “Aydın İnciri”, “Bayramiç Beyazı”, “Malatya Kayısısı”, “Aydın Kestanesi”, “Taşköprü Sarımsağı”, “Milas Zeytinyağı” and “Giresun Tombul Fındığı”. pic.twitter.com/6coUFPCA5j— Faruk Kaymakcı (@frkkymkc) March 13, 2023
Turkey’s southern province of Hatay, particuarly its central city, Antakya, is the region hardest hit by the twin killer earthquakes that hit southeast Turkey and northern Syria on Feb. 6, leaving more than 50,000 people dead and millions displaced. More than 25,000 of those lost their lives in Hatay.
In addition to the lives lost, Antakya’s multi-religious and multicultural identity suffered irreversible damage. Most of the city's landmark houses of worship cherished by believers from three religions, UNESCO-listed edifices and renowned restaurants that keep the Mesopotamian culture alive for generations were destroyed by the quakes.