Written by: Binod Baral: The world is in confusion right now. With humans being the only support to other humans, this race is striving its best to fight the SARS-CoV-2. While food, shelter, clean water has always remained the fundamental need of every human born naked on this planet, maintaining their hygiene and sanitation also needs to be highlighted for longevity and healthy life. The World and its economy have slowed down, businesses closed, men losing their jobs, and nations on the verge of economic collapse one after another. At crucial times like these, #Gastrodiplomacy could be one of the best possible solutions Post COVID-19 era. This simple presentation yet sophisticated behind the scenes working could be used as a soft power tool to enhance a Nation’s Brand recognition. In the past few years, #GastroDiplomacy has been an increasingly popular strategy to maintain diplomacy globally. Countries like Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Japan, Malaysian, Peru, South Korea, Taiwan, Australia, and Thailand to name a few have recognized the extraordinary public diplomacy opportunity afforded by sharing their heritage cuisine to one another. Many countries have even devoted a significant amount of their Nation’s treasury for the funding of formal campaigns where they share their cuisine and their culinary expertise across the globe. This is something the government can also get inspired by and add one more tourism product for the country to upgrade the local communities for betterment. The cuisine
is not only a dish, but it is a unifying factor that reflects a country’s identity for its past and its government’s National attempts at identity-building in the present. Gastro diplomacy can evoke a sense of national pride and unity around food.
At this current time and age of globalization, our heritage cuisine represents historic identities and associations between food, cultures, communities, at national, regional, and local levels. It has never been easier before to promote local cuisines around the globe than at this current time.
It would be a pleasure if all the food lovers from around the world, let’s call them Global foodies, to unite together to show our heritage through our gastronomy. There is a need of this current time that we join our hands Post COVID-19 and work together for betterment of not ourselves, but our surroundings too. This will not only give us a pleasure and a sense of self-satisfaction throughout our lifetime but also gives us the pride of making a mark in our lives for doing our bit for our community and country. That bit, is through food! Let's debate on some innovative, productive, and constructive ideas for the globalization of cuisines. Let’s work together on bringing our identity at Global map and make our community proud. There might be only a handful of people in this world who doesn’t know about Shushi, or Ramen from Japan, noodles from China, Pastas and Pizzas from Italy, Indian and Thailand’s curries. Similarly, it might be just a single kind of bread from thousands, the Pretzel, but it represents Germany’s Identity.
One of my suggestive campaign routes would be a "Relay Food Tour". This will be a showcase of our food where selected chef members of a team take turns showcasing from our best dishes of their cuisine or organizing presentation and workshop per demand and available resources. A 'Relay Food Tour' can be done
with a local, an amateur, or a professional Chef under one of our selected representative members anywhere in world. This will give an easy local and global coverage and reduce the time of cuisine being known to the local audience. The results too can be tracked in a cost-effective way: closely working as team local stakeholder, coordinating with the respective Embassy, Representative Chefs, the country’s Tourism Board, Government Authorities and their representatives, multinational food and lifestyle medias, only to name a few. It is to be realized that we can't Globalize our food until a citizen from another country is been made known about the cuisine and this effect has to magnify to as many countries as possible. But the first challenge would always be to motivate and provide the consumers with enough confidence to taste the alien cuisines. Even the restaurant owners and investors unaware about such cuisines should be assured about the quality, presentation, and food safety.
It is to realize that Chefs alone can’t Globalize any cuisine. Out of various entities that could play a crucial role in putting a cuisine to the global map, media always remains important. With their proper support and localization of every content they publish about what Chefs present, any cuisine can surely reach the Global audience.
A reality, though, is that only dreaming wouldn’t take the food to global market. And neither can be too rigid about the authenticity of a dish can push the dish further to a greater audience. What if I say that Tikka Masala, Chicken Madras, Vindaloo are not authentic Indian food? What if I say that Thai curry is not an authentic food? An important lesson to learn from them is the way these dishes have adapted to the local audience and attracted their attention to become their favorite. Any dish needs to be innovatively modified, tweaked, and presented making sure that the mass accepts it while maintaining the integrity of its originality too. The dishes that adapt are the dishes that reaches to a lot of bellies.
If we compare few cuisines of other nations to Nepal, the Himalayan nation in South-Asia, Spiced Jerky can be replaced with Sukuti, Tikka Kebabs can be replaced with Sekuwa, Dosa can be replaced with Chatamari, Donuts can be replacing with Selroti! And the list keeps growing if I start making such comparisons.
Let's begin writing positive notes about cuisine following the current trends. Yes! we love our food but let’s find what other people want to hear? Food preferences could vary from vegan diets, vegetarian dishes, Himalayan herbs, food as medicine, Gluten free food like Buckwheat varieties from Himalayas, Immune boosters, our forage, and so on! Let us try to follow the popular trends and demands of the consumers and adapt accordingly. An important remark to make here is that only Chef-cooked foods aren’t the only foods available. Beer, Himalayan water bottled and sold, Herbs; these items too can be highlighted as a country’s brand and identity. Working on consistency, quality, international standards, and most importantly the overall quality, shelf-life traceability and labelling. We can definitely work on our local homemade Beverages and Organic beverages with right AVB. #GastroDiplomacy doesn’t just talk about food- it begins right from farm while choosing the ingredients required to prepare it. The cooking method and preparation technique too are very crucial. Thus, Robata grill can be an important gastro diplomacy product. The usage of chopsticks, spoons, forks, knives, location chosen to sit and eat, the art of chewing food, shallow it, drink appropriate beverage to suite the dish, all these add up to how a dish is being perceived and presented until it reaches the mouth of the foodie. In other words, anything that is included from a farm until the food is served at the table can be covered under #GastroDiplomacy as per my understanding. But more concepts can be added to make farm to fork a better campaign.Videos on a Cook book included food preparations and Street Foods are current trends in food channels. Food Festival Tours, Food Talk shows from expert Like Ken Holm, Nobu Matsia, Rene Redzepi from Denmark, Ferran Ardia from Spain, Julia Childs who made French food common to Americans, all are some examples of how food can be made known to a greater audience. Chef Massimo Bottura from Italy replaces Parmesan cheese in his dish to rescue the people of his town post-earthquake. Small changes for the usage of local rice and cheese made big difference to whole country’s Economy. He also was featured in the first episode of the first series of Netflix Chef Table. Similarly, Asma khan is first Indian chef in Netflix Chef Table Series. She is pioneer from pool of Indian chefs based on UK Chefs and more over she is an advocate of women empowerment in the kitchen. Wild honey hunting from Nepal can be an interesting story to tell the audience. The product itself is very organic and healthy too. Videos on fishing and farming, organic farming jets, etc are a few names not to be missed in the list.
A collaborative work with Foreign Embassies on Home countries are one of the greatest sources of information flow while its ambassadors are the messengers of our dishes. They encourage on more constructive and relevant stories to be told and researched further. I’d personally prefer a Researcher communicating with the local communities to bring out factual based stories to be told about the dishes. If we are to develop the rural tourism sector of #Nepal, its Local food products-either new trends or based on a specific conception of heritage food can play important promotional roles. It is better to understand that the role tourism plays a vital role in the creation, preservation, and revival of cultural identity based on local food products and food heritage. Tourism increases the awareness of food heritage and strengthens local identity. Even though these food products might not be much used in ordinary day to day consumption, it is more viable for business purposes.
We definitely need more marketing of restaurants, places, Chefs and Owner if they have story to tell, history and legacy of the area, Cuisine they served, Signature dishes, etc. It’s even better if they focus something better like Forage, Farm to Fork, Sattvic, Yoga food, Vegan, Gluten free, One dish restaurant, specialized dishes, etc. There are various restaurants opened to support good cause and charity as well. So, we need say these things loud and clear. Lastly, the most important thing: food safety and hygiene. This needs to be incorporated in every dish that is being served. Delivering consistency of the product and validating standard agency Traceability of produces, Staff Food and Safety Training, PPE, Personal Hygiene, may be open kitchen plan so people can see to achieve quick confidence. It is a humble appeal from me to invite all the Chefs, Dulwas, Government agencies, food and beverage medias, and food scientists to work together. Let us all find and utilize expert from around the globe to make our future better.
Binod Baral, Global Goodwill Ambassadors Foundation
Global Research and Development Chef for Gourmet Entertainment company
Every little bit helps. #GlobalGoodwillAmbassadorsFoundation