Food Politics
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Can Culinary Diplomacy Achieve World Peace? Maybe…

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.

Image from: http://www.archives.gov/publications/prologue/2011/summer/whats-cooking.html

President Lyndon B. Johnson’s first state dinner, a Texas-style barbecue. Subsequent casual meals led to the term “barbecue diplomacy.” (Lyndon Baines Johnson Library)

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

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