Gastronomy and diplomacy. How is it possible to combine these two themes and to create memorable feelings that encourage us to learn about another culture and make it pleasant and useful?
Is it possible to learn about other cultures through culinary art? These and other ideas I had when I first heard the words gastro and diplomacy. But when I remember the experiences of my life and my travels, the answer is simple. Of course, it is possible.
A lively example is the Southeast Asia – Malaysia. Three nationalities that co-exist in one place, the Indians, the Chinese, and the Malaysian. Different nations and different beliefs. I had the opportunity to experience this country for six months, and on my own skin I experienced the immense diversity and at the same time the differences of their cultures. And the art of cooking, flavours and various pleasant scents has become a common interest for them, and I can say that also a passion for them. Not only are they proud of how they are famous because of their food all over the world, but they are always talking about the food, and it is the main topic for them. Even when I got into the Uber in the morning, the driver’s first question was always about what I had for breakfast. Soon after that, I was listening to what I was going to eat, or if for me the local food is not very spicy, and what is the typical food for my country. These debates have always been very open and full of inquisitive questions and recommendations about good food, and finally it has often brought us to the topics we do not usually talk about, which are a bit of a taboo. Especially in terms of religion and the effort to understand different views of the world. Gastronomy is, in this respect, a great key to opening a deeper debate.
Isn’t it a nice idea? Other cultures, religions, customs, traditions and all that you know through food, not through conflicts and unpleasant experiences. The passion for food is really strong in Malaysia, helping to overcome the mutual prejudices among the different peoples living there. I thought that we should also use this in our Central European countries and open up even more to the new possibilities. Let’s try it. The food is connecting us.