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Food: 'The Oldest Diplomatic Tool'

Hillary Clinton once called food "the oldest diplomatic tool." Food diplomacy (or culinary diplomacy, or gastrodiplomacy) refers to the use of food and cuisine as instruments to create cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions and cooperation. That's an academic way of saying using food to get along with people, to talk with people, and to get to know them better. Scroll through the resources on this page to learn more about programs and commentary on this emerging trend. We invite you to read, explore, comment, and suggest other resources we might include!

Articles

This article in Nations & States (Sep 29, 2016) discusses state dinners and more, illustrating how culinary diplomacy reminds us of the common humanity among countries.

Why use chefs as culinary ambassadors? “You can make connections around a dinner table you can’t make around a conference table.” National Geographic (Apr 25, 2015)
NPR’s The Salt covers food diplomacy study (Conflict Cuisine®) at American University: using food to foster cultural understanding among countries. (Mar 24, 2014)
This article (Eater, Sep 23, 2015) presents examples from Pittsburgh to London, Syria to Iran, demonstrating how food can act as a diplomacy tool and a gateway to peace.

This blog (and its host website, Culinary Diplomacy) is the work of Sam Chapple-Sokol, a consultant on research and programs in the field of culinary diplomacy.

For Churchill, the dinner table was for fine food, drink, cigars, and political maneuvering. Learn about key WWII era meals over which Churchill presided.

This transcript of the Feb 7, 2014 episode of NPR’s The Splendid Table podcast features Sam Chapple-Sokol explaining the concept of culinary diplomacy.

This biweekly show features chefs, academics, and activists talking about food, diplomacy, and culture, particularly food as a tool for cross-cultural connection.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-culinary-citizen/id1075482918?mt=2 (Also available on SoundCloud, Pod|Fanatic, Podchaser)

Here’s the full report from a 2015 conference at American University by Johanna Mendelson Forman, AU scholar and creator of the Conflict Cuisine® course of study.

TED Talk by Leah Selim, co-founder of NYC’s Global Kitchen, which hosts immigrant-led cooking classes to promote cultural exchange and awareness through food. (YouTube Feb 18, 2014)

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a video message to the Diplomatic Culinary Partnerships Initiative about the program and the power of food to strengthen bonds and international relations. (YouTube Sep 10, 2012)

This site, born out of American University’s course Conflict Cuisine®, offers information on food diplomacy, American immigrants, and the Washington D.C. culinary landscape.

Subtitled The Nexus Between Food, Culture and International Relations, this resource is for academics and professionals in culinary diplomacy, food studies, and more.

The U.S. State Department and JBA created the American Chef Corps to travel the world as culinary ambassadors and promote American cuisine and ingredients.

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