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”.