To Taste us is to Love Us: Gastro Diplomacy
This concept is defined as the use of food in Public Diplomacy in order to foster cross-cultural bondsJune 19th, 2019
Gastro Diplomacy aims to improve a country’s image, strengthen intercultural exchange and even increase trade and tourism.
Cultures are made up of narratives which perpetuate certain values and morals. Those narratives are usually materialized through visual arts, music and theater. However, this transmission can also take place through food and cooking, mainly by paying attention to the traditions and processes that revolve around a meal.
The term Gastro Diplomacy is relatively new, but the concept is actually quite old. In his book On the Way to Diplomacy (1996), the writer Costas Constantinou looks into the role that food played in diplomatic relations in ancient Greece. But it was in French modern diplomacy, in the time of King Louis XIII, where Gastro Diplomacy gained the most strength, since the first embassies were established back then. Consequently, French ambassadors settled abroad, carrying with them their traditions and, of course, their cuisine.
Gastronomy is known to be a central axis within culture. This makes it a part of the soft power strategy, which is closely related to Public Diplomacy and, in particular, to Cultural Diplomacy. In fact, the link between Gastro Diplomacy and persuasion towards different cultures or values is undeniable, since hearts can be easily won with food.
The vital character food is gifted with makes out of it a powerful way of intercultural exchange. In fact, food has proven to be one of the strongest constituents of identity during the past decades, even capable of growing into a national or regional symbol.