France, home to delicacies such as foie gras and souffle, wants to be the first country to put its cuisine on the United Nations' World Heritage List, President Nicolas Sarkozy said on Saturday.
"We have the best gastronomy in the world," he said at the inauguration of the annual Paris farm show.
"I have taken the initiative so that France becomes the first country in 2009 to submit its candidacy to obtain recognition of our gastronomic heritage as part of World Heritage."
The UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage List, created in 1972 to protect historical and natural sites, traditionally applies to places or geographical areas rather than cultural crafts such as cooking.
UNESCO's current list includes 851 sites which range from Egypt's ancient pyramids to the Great Wall of China and Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
French wine producing regions such as Saint-Emilion and the Loire Valley between Sully-sur-Loire and Chalonnes already enjoy World Heritage status. Other French sites on the list include Chartres Cathedral, Mont Saint Michel and the banks of the river Seine in Paris.
"This is great news," award-winning chef Marc Veyrat told France Info radio. "Gastronomy is something that is alive."
France, one of the world's biggest exporters of wine and cheese, has always taken pride in its food industry and has been at pains to protect the use of brand names such as champagne and Roquefort cheese.