Gastrodiplomacy: The Politics of Food



People tend to associate and identify certain foods with particular destinations, peoples and cultures. For example, kimchi immediately reminds us of Korea, while baklava reminds us of treats from Greece. In 2002, the government of Thailand used its food and beverages to promote the country globally. Eventually, countries around the world began opening Thai restaurants, recognizing the power of food to build a country’s brand image with culture and community. This is also referred to as “gastrodiplomacy.” From a tourism perspective, it links tourists with local communities by bridging the gap between nations. As countries understand the power of food, they seek opportunities to elevate the awareness of their culinary heritage. It's often said that the closest interaction many Americans have with other countries' cultures is through food. That kind of culinary diplomacy is particularly common in Washington, D.C., where immigrants from all over the world have cooked up a diverse food scene. As the saying goes, "The easiest way to win hearts and minds is through the stomach.”