Optional Blog: Gastrodiplomacy – Delicious and Informative

I thoroughly enjoyed the presentation on Thai gastrodiplomacy, both in terms of the food and the actual presentation. I thought that the group worked seamlessly and incorporated treats as an incentive to get us to participate. The powerpoint was simple and effective, and the content was engaging. The culinary diplomacy program that the Thai government is implementing was interesting to me because it is a nice way for both the restaurant owners to stay connected to their culture and for new Thai eaters to become better acquainted with what the food should taste like. The Thai program is interesting too because it provides categories of authenticity and can be used as a tool for customers to assess the food they are consuming.

Their program reminded me of the Italian version in which pizza restaurants can apply to be a member of the Neopolitan Pizza association and receive  D.O.C (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) certification, which specifies methods of preparation and ingredients for traditional Neapolitan Pizza. Two Amy’s, on Wisconsin, is a member of this Association and as such, has been recognized by the Italian government. I think that programs like the Thai and Italian certification are a fun way to engage foodies with diplomacy. The Thai program, more so than the Italian one, requires certain products to be from Thailand and therefore raises imports to the Untied States for certain goods. I think this component makes the program more effective in terms of continuing a connection between the Thai restaurants and Thailand. I do not think the Italian version has any such requirements or classifications but it is an interesting idea nonetheless.

The Thai program was interesting and exposed me to a new viewpoint when thinking about Thai food. The group posed a series of questions related to the amount of money people spend on Thai food related to that of a “developed” country like France, and while I would not spend as much money on Thai food as I would on French food, I may be more likely to check out a Thai restaurant that has been categorized as “authentic”.

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2 thoughts on “Optional Blog: Gastrodiplomacy – Delicious and Informative

  1. I agree– because this was the first time I heard about the Thai culinary/diplomacy program, it was very interesting. The presentations also raised some thought provoking questions regarding– how do you truly measure success, especially when tourism rates seem to be a correlation versus proven causation? Is there another benefit of the government having its hands in creating standards and managing ingredient exports? Does the certification mean anything to American consumers? Food does seem to be a connector and enjoyable common ground for many, so it’s a seemingly win-win to pair it with diplomacy efforts. But in an age where data and measuring impact are greatly emphasized, gastrodiplomacy is a unique juxtaposition.

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  2. I also enjoyed this presentation, and it has forced me to ask the question for other countries- what do I know about them and why? As I noted in our class discussion after the presentation, New Zealand has recently been better placed on the map due to its association with the iconic Lord of the Rings, Hobbit, and Avatar movies. Prior to the release of these movies, people would ask where New Zealand was in Eastern Europe. Now, with the help of the movies and the popular culture surrounding them, the average person’s perception and knowledge of the country has drastically changed. Further, as you note in your blog, when I think of Italy, I quickly think of pizza and pasta.

    As the group noted, Korea and Peru have also embraced gastrodiplomacy, and I believe it’s working because in recent years “Korean Tacos” have become a popular item in my hometown. And since many Americans do not know much about foreign relations or international relations, connecting through food is a great way to form a meaningful connection. I suppose this is why the ancient Romans engaged in gastrodiplomacy when they made peace with their enemies by eating a meal together.

    Therefore, I agree that for countries looking to garner international interest, engaging in gastrodiplomacy, or to connect itself with something in popular culture as New Zealand, is strategically valuable.

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