Believe it or not, food has long been used as a route for culinary diplomacy way before Anthony Bourdain (rest in peace) made it popular. Food truly is the universal medium that all humans, regardless of their background, can meet and forge lasting relationships. Culinary diplomacy may sound a bit silly, but after learning what it is, how countries use it and how unbelievably important it is, you will find that food is a REALLY important aspect. 

What is Culinary Diplomacy?

coffee, table, chair, setting, Interior, cafe, Restaurant, brunch, breakfast, restaurants, Minimalist, minimalistic, interiors
Denise Uy

Culinary diplomacy is the use of food as a tool that fosters cultural understanding among countries. Here on AU's campus, we have a class on culinary diplomacy, called "gastrodiplomacy". In the class, students get to learn about the relationship between food and culture by listening to different diaspora communities that have visited DC during times of conflict. By listening to these stories over a meal together, students get to slowly see what culinary diplomacy is.

Food is an ambassador in and of itself. Historically, food has been used for peace-building even though it has only recently become popular in public diplomacy. The Romans would use food as a way to create peace with their enemies - by sharing a meal together, people become more open to each other and this starts the creation of a diplomatic bond. This is because food is a tangible way to access culture.

Culinary Diplomacy in the United States

apple pie, pie
Jocelyn Hsu

The United States has used culinary diplomacy to help build lasting relationships with other countries. Through programs such as the Diplomatic Culinary Partnership and educational culinary diplomacy exchanges the Department of State has asked food experts to make meals for visiting diplomats, has sent American chefs abroad to introduce American culture, or asked foreign chef's to visit the U.S. to share their culture with Americans.

These exchanges are valuable because they make relationships between nations accessible through the simplicity of food. By sharing a meal together, individuals from different backgrounds are able to build mutual understanding and forge lasting peace. Food is more than just a yummy dish, it is a tool that can open doors between individuals and countries.

How We Can Take Part in Culinary Diplomacy

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Lisa Romano

We can all be culinary diplomats. The best way that you can take part in culinary diplomacy is simple: eat meals with people. Meet new people by saying hello to the owners of a restaurant. Order the most authentic meal on the menu and ask the chef how they learned the recipe. These conversations bring us as a global society together and forges lasting peace between cultures.

Culinary diplomacy is as simple as just trying a new restaurant or a new dish. Anthony Bourdain is a great example if you are nervous. He was the best culinary diplomat of our era. Through watching his shows or reading his blogs, you can see how simple culinary diplomacy is. Become hungry, open your mind, and ask someone about their background. You will find that food truly is the best way to make a new friend and to welcome diversity into your world.