Culinary Diplomacy on The Splendid Table

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Big news in the world of Culinary Diplomacy — there was a segment on The Splendid Table, the wonderful food radio show on American Public Media and broadcast on NPR, about it. I was interviewed by Rebecca Sheir about the field — definitions, history, and current examples. Check it out to hear more:

Audio (starts at around 23 minutes 25 seconds)


(image courtesy of The Splendid Table)
(image courtesy of The Splendid Table)

Just a teaser, here’s the opening:

Lynn Rossetto Kasper:

“The destiny of nations depends on how they nourish themselves,” said Jean Brillat-Savarin, the 18th-century epicure.

The idea is still alive and well today. Take Sam Chapple-Sokol: His main interest is the nexus of food and diplomacy, and how they can be combined to change the world. He calls this tool culinary diplomacy.

Rebecca Sheir: What is culinary diplomacy?

Sam Chapple-Sokol: I have defined culinary diplomacy in a couple of pieces that I’ve written as the use of food in cuisine as an instrument to create cross-cultural understanding in the hopes of improving interactions in 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.

RS: But it’s more than just being a good cook?

SCS: Yes. It’s being a good eater, a good host, a good guest. It’s using food as a convener, so it’s really what happens at that table with the people around it.

There’s a really good word for this: commensality, which comes from the Latin com, which means with, and mensa, which means table. So it’s sitting at the table with someone. That’s what defines or underlies this field of culinary diplomacy.

(…keep reading here.)

Thanks to Sally Swift for bringing me into the studio, Rebecca Sheir for interviewing me, and Lynn Rossetto Kasper for the amazing show.

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