While I can’t agree with all governmental policy, I’m a huge fan of the U.S. Department of State’s new Diplomatic Culinary Partnership Initiative. Secretary of State, Hillary Rodham Clinton, explains:
Showcasing favorite cuisines, ceremonies and values is an often overlooked and powerful tool of diplomacy. The meals that I share with my counterparts at home and abroad cultivate a stronger cultural understanding between countries and offer a unique setting to enhance the formal diplomacy we conduct every day.
As a food studies student, I couldn’t agree more that meals are rituals full of cultural meaning and unspoken dialogue, providing endless opportunities for developing understanding and connection. Every element speaks, such as: what foods are served; how the meals are prepared, plated, served, and introduced; who prepares the meals; and where the ingredients come from.
From the Kennedy’s Continental flair with French White House chef, René Verdon, to LBJ’s barbecue diplomacy — not to mention George W. Bush’s own version of barbecue diplomacy — culinary diplomacy has been informally utilized for decades. On September 7, 2012, however, the U.S. Department of State and the James Beard Foundation will formally announce their partnership and the launch of the Diplomatic Culinary Partnerships initiative, working to create global understanding through food.
Read More about the Diplomatic Culinary Partnerships Initiative
- New York Times (July 2, 2012): Diplomacy Travels on its Stomach Too, Marian Burros
- The Braiser (July 3, 2012): Hillary Clinton Taps Celebrity Chefs as Part of Diplomatic Strategy, Tina Nguyen
- CBS News (July 6, 2012): Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, turns to food for diplomacy, Chip Reid
- NPR’s The Salt (September 8, 2012): America’s Best Chefs Answer the Call to Serve their Nation
- Fox News (September 10, 2012): State Department using food as tool for diplomacy