Food brings people together. Throughout time, national cuisines have spread organically through migration, trade routes, and globalization. Others have been deliberately packaged and delivered to foreign audiences—both by state and non-state actors—as a means of expressing a country’s culture and values. This form of cultural diplomacy, whether deliberate or unintentional, has been coined “gastrodiplomacy.”
Gastrodiplomacy is the practice of sharing a country’s cultural heritage through food. Countries such as South Korea, Peru, Thailand, and Malaysia have recognized the seductive qualities food can have, and are leveraging this unique medium of cultural diplomacy to increase trade, economic investment, and tourism, as well as to enhance soft power. Gastrodiplomacy offers foreign publics the opportunity to engage with other cultures through food, often from a distance. This form of edible nation branding is a growing trend in public diplomacy.
The Winter 2014 issue of Public Diplomacy Magazine contributes to the burgeoning scholarship on gastrodiplomacy and its role in public diplomacy. Our feature and perspective pieces create a theoretical and practical framework for discussing gastrodiplomacy in multiple contexts. From the heated debate over the ownership of dolma, to how food television travelogues play a role in national image, to a prescriptive piece suggesting how to better measure and evaluate gastrodiplomacy programs. Our case studies examine the gastrodiplomacy of Japan and Greece, while our interviews cover an Asian night market in Los Angeles and elegant Indian food in Texas. In addition, Public Diplomacy Magazine speaks with a U.S. Foreign Service Officer who specializes in gastrodiplomacy. We close this issue with a book review on cultural icon and chef Eddie Huang’s new biography, Fresh Off the Boat, and an endnote to introduce our next issue: “The Power of Non-State Actors.”
We would like to express our gratitude to the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, the Annenberg Press, the USC Dornsife School of International Relations, and the USC Master of Public Diplomacy Program. Their continued support has helped make Public Diplomacy Magazine a leader in the field of public diplomacy.
Last, but certainly not least, we would like to thank all our contributors for adding to the dialogue on the emerging and expanding field of gastrodiplomacy.
We hope you enjoy this issue as much as we enjoyed putting it together. We encourage you to visit our website www.publicdiplomacymagazine.com to view our online-only gastrodiplomacy articles, past issues, and to participate in the ongoing conversation on public diplomacy trends.
The State of Gastrodiplomacy by Paul Rockower
Conflict Cuisine: Teaching War Through Washington’s Ethnic Restaurant Scene by Johanna Mendelson Forman with Sam Chapple-Sokol
Potlucks for Peace? By Andrea Wenzel
War and Peas: Culinary Conflict Resolution as Citizen Diplomacy by Sam Chapple-Sokol
Jamie Oliver and the Gastrodiplomacy of Simulacra by Francessco Buscemi
Gastrodiploamcy: The Case of the Embassy of Greece by Zoe Kosmidou
Sweden: An Old Hand at Gastrodiplomacy by Gabriella Augustsson and Larilyn André
Eddie Huang’s Fresh of the Boat: A Memoir by Jocelyn Coffin