In 1970, in the midst of the Cold War, American statesman and diplomat Henry Kissinger famously remarked that “[when you] control food, you control the people.“ Even though Kissinger was referring to the management of global food supplies, his statement holds true also in the case of person-to-person interactions. Sharing a meal can help people transcend boundaries in a way that nothing else can. At the same time, as an important marker of cultural identity, food can become a driver of conflicts, too. In this salon, we embarked on a culinary journey into the politics of food. Our goal was to get closer to understanding how what we put in our plates functions as a tool of soft power.
Some of the questions we strived to answer: What is the nexus between food and politics? Is the kitchen the new political forum? How does our culinary past reflect our values, culture and set of beliefs? In which ways does world politics infiltrate into the jigsaw of restaurants that inform the culinary landscape of our cities? Is it useful to look at food through the lens of cultural diplomacy? What are the implications of having countries ‘represented’ by their culinary traditions? What are the limits of gastrodiplomacy programs? And how to quantify their success? When does food function as a conduit for lasting changes, building peace and cultural awareness? When, instead, does it become a terrain of conflict and confrontation? Where shall we draw the line between the protection of a country’s culinary heritage and gastro-nationalism? And when spreading culinary traditions become gastro-propaganda? Which state and non-state actors are emerging as champions of this type of diplomacy? And how can we, as citizens, contribute to make gastrodiplomacy an effective tool of conflict resolution?
This salon took place on September 11th, 2018 and was dedicated to Anthony Bourdain.
Johanna Mendelson Forman is Adjunct Professor at the American University’s School of International Service where she teaches Conflict Cuisine: An Introduction to War and Peace Around the Dinner Table, a course that encourages new ways of looking at diplomacy by highlighting the role of food in driving conflict and connecting people and communities. She has written extensively about food and conflict, and topics related to Latin America. Her work has been published in a wide-range of publications including, the Miami Herald, Washington Post, Americas Quarterly, The Globalist, and World Politics Review. Previously, Johanna served as the Director of Peace, Security, and Human Rights at the UN Foundation, and as a Senior Advisor to the UN Mission in Haiti.
Bill Yosses is an American chef of international renown. He held the prestigious title of the White House Executive Pastry Chef from 2007 to 2014. In those years, Bill got first-hand experience of culinary diplomacy representing the US State Department as part of their Culinary Diplomacy Corps. As pastry chef of the White House, he was also closely involved with Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move initiative with the goal of reducing childhood health problems related to diet and conducted bi-weekly tours of the White House vegetable garden for school groups.
Peter J. Kim is Executive Director at Museum of Food and Drink (MOFAD), the world’s first large-scale food museum. Peter began working on launching MOFAD in 2011. Since then, he has overseen all aspects of the project’s development, including the opening of the museum’s first brick-and-mortar space in October 2015. He and MOFAD have been featured in The New York Times, New Yorker, NPR, and Wall Street Journal, and he has spoken widely about the museum’s dynamic approach. He has worked as a hunger policy advocate, public health educator, and international litigator, and he founded and directed L'Art de Vivre, an arts education nonprofit in Cameroon.
Jon Gray is co-founder of Ghetto Gastro, a culinary collective and cultural movement that operates at the intersection of food, design and community empowerment. Ghetto Gastro was formed in 2012 and has since then used food to spark larger conversations around inclusion, race, and economic empowerment, with the ultimate goal of establishing the Bronx as a culinary destination.
LinYee Yuan is founder and editor of MOLD, an editorial platform about designing the future of food. LinYee was previously the entrepreneur in residence for QZ.com and an editor for Core77, T: The New York Times Style Magazine and Theme Magazine. She has written about design and art for Food52, Design Observer, Cool Hunting, Elle Decor and Wilder Quarterly. LinYee also contributed the foreword to Food Futures: Sensory Explorations in Food Design and Cooking Up Trouble.
THE OLDEST DIPLOMATIC TOOL
Laudan, Rachel, Cuisine and Empire: Cooking in World History, University of California Press (April 2015)
Porter Kirkwood, Kenneth, The diplomat at table: a social and anecdotal history through the looking-glasss, Scarecrow Press (1974)
Schwabe, Alon, and Pascu, Daniel Fernandez, The Empire Remains Shop, Columbia University Press (2018)
Shapiro, Laura. The First Kitchen, The New Yorker (11.22.2010)
Stelzer, Cita, Dinner With Churchill: Policy-Making at the Dinner Table, Pegasus (October 2013)
FOOD AND IDENTITY
Belasco, Warren James, “Identity: Are we what we eat?”, in Food: the key concepts, Bloomsbury (2012)
Ciezaldo, Annia, Eat, Drink, Protest, Foreign Policy (05.25.2011)
Cogan, Marin, American Buffet: What refugee chefs bring to our country, The Washington Post Magazine (12.07.2017)
Freedman, Paul, Ten Restaurants That Changed America, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. (2016)
Harris, Jessica B., My Soul Looks Black: A Memoir, Charles Scribner’s Sons (2017)
Lam, Francis, Edna Lewis and the Black Roots of American Cooking, The New York Times (10.28.2015)
Twitty, Michael W., The Cooking Gene. A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South, Harper Collins Publishers (2017)
BRANDING A NATION
Albright, Mary Beth, Culinary Diplomacy Is On America’s Menu, National Geographic Magazine (04.25.2015)
Mahon, Elaine, ‘Ireland on a Plate’: Curating the 2011 State Banquet for Queen Elizabeth, Journal of Media and Culture, vol. 18, issue 4 (August 2015)
Mintz, Sidney, Tasting Food, Tasting Freedom, Beacon Press (1996)
Pham, Mary Jo, Food as Communication: A Case Study of South Korea’s Gastrodiplomacy, Journal of International Service, vol.22, no 1, pp.1-23 (Spring 2013)
Rockower, Paul, Projecting Taiwan, Issues & Studies, vol.47, no 1, pp.107-152 (March 2011)
Ruddy, Braden, Hearts, Minds, and Stomachs: Gastrodiplomacy and the Potential of National Cuisine in Changing Public Perception of National Image, Public Diplomacy Magazine (03.02.2014)
Singh, Maanvi, Who’s Behind The Latest Ethnic Food Trend? Maybe It’s A Government, National Public Radio - The Salt (04.26.2015)
Wilson, Rachel, Cocina Peruana Para El Mundo: Gastrodiplomacy, the Culinary Nation Brand, and the Context of National Cuisine in Peru, Exchange: The Journal of Public Diplomacy, vol.2, issue 1 (2013)
FOOD AS A SOCIO-POLITICAL BAROMETER
What the World Eats, National Geographic Magazine
Johnson, Geoff, The great nutrient collapse, Politico (09.13.2017)
Latson, Jennifer, The Kitchen Debate: When Khrushchev Said No to Pepsi but Yes to Peace, Time (07.24.2015)
Michel, Charles, The Taste of Cutlery and the Multisensory World of Eating, MOLD Magazine (01.05.18)
Ray, Krishnendu, The Ethnic Restaurateur, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc. (2016)
FOOD AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION
Lasky, Julie, Matters of Taste, The New York Times (02.27.2014)
Mendelson Forman, Johanna, Foreign Policy in the Kitchen, E-International Relations (10.05.2016)
Ojong, Vivian Besem, Food as a measure of complete diplomacy: balancing India-Africa partnership through accommodating taste, Nidan: International Journal for Indian Studies, vol. 25, issue 1, pp.34-50 (January 2013)
Rockower, Paul, Recipes for gastrodiplomacy, Place Branding and Public Diplomacy (11.14.2012)
Sciolino, Elaine, French Politics Served in a Pita, The New York Times (12.22.2014)
FEEDING THE RESISTANCE
Brooks, Courtney, The Diplomacy of Food: a Q&A with Ben Rhodes, Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown (04.04.2017)
Chapple-Sokol, Sam, War and Peas: Culinary Conflict Resolution as Citizen Diplomacy, Public Diplomacy Magazine (03.02.2014)
Poon, Linda, Gastrodiplomacy: Cooking Up A Tasty Lesson On War And Peace, National Public Radio - The Salt (04.03.2014)
Turshen, Julia, Feed the Resistance: Recipes + Ideas for Getting Involved, Chronicle Books (2017)
A taste of conflict: The politics of food in Jerusalem, Al Jazeera - 101 East (02.02.2016)
Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown, CNN - Roads & Kingdoms
Who Invented Chai? Well, It’s Complicated, AJ+ (05.20.2018)
Svatek, Peter, Theater of Life (2016)