Food and Politics?! Why Countries are Spending Millions on ‘Gastrodiplomacy’

Food and Politics?! Why Countries are Spending Millions on ‘Gastrodiplomacy’



hello hello welcome to rogue rocket my name is philip defranco and today we're gonna be talking about what happens when you take one of the most unifying things in the world and you combine it with one of the most divisive and if you're confused by my unnecessary riddle what we're gonna be talking about today is food and politics now you might not think that these things go together but I mean recently we've seen President Trump at the center of media attention a few times thanks to his food choices here just a few examples of those gems here he is picture of himself eating a taco bowl with a caption happy Cinco de Mayo the best taco bowls are made in Trump Tower Grill I love Hispanics quarter pounders by candlelight with Whitehouse residential staff furloughed president Trump picked up the tab for burgers pizza and fries for the champion Clemson Tigers the Donald Trump photo creating a social media firestorm he's eating KFC with a knife and fork man but Trump's not the first politician who's brought food into the spotlight because food has been a part of politics for a very very long time the ancient Romans used food to negotiate and settle conflicts and in ancient Greece people used to get together for drinks food and to talk about problems in a symposium which I've been informed as a word smart people today still use when talking about a meeting but food isn't always used as a tool for good in fact it can be used as a powerful weapon that governments use against their people which you might remember when we talked about Venezuelan president Nicolas Maduro controlling food supplies during the election last March but today we're gonna be looking at how world leaders and governments have tried to use food as a tool to unite a little more specifically we're going to look at concepts known as gastro diplomacy and culinary diplomacy some people have used those terms interchangeably when talking broadly about food and politics but not everyone agrees that they mean the same thing kasher diplomacy is a relatively new term and it deals with governments trying to influence foreign publics while culinary diplomacy has been around for much longer and it deals with governments interacting with other foreign governments but to really dive into these concepts want to turn it over to ELISA sure Nikki from the rogue rocket team it's pretty common knowledge that the United States and England have been really close allies throughout the years it's why people sometimes refer to the connection between the two as a special relationship a special relationship with Great Britain I look forward to building on the special relationship we have between our two countries but what you may not know is that we partially have hot dogs to thank for that political closeness yep hot dogs so how did hot dogs the cheap summertime barbecue favorite and every dietitians worst nightmare help bring England in the u.s. together well to answer that we have to look back to the summer of 1939 that was a summer marked by really high global tensions in just a few months the world would be at war by his latest act of naked aggression Hitler has committed a crime not only against Poland but against the whole human race against the mothers and children leaving the cities of Britain under the great evacuation scheme with a smoothness and speed that avoids a single accident or delay so in the summer of 39 countries across the world were working hard to create alliances and prepare for the potential of war it was also the same summer that English monarchs Queen Elizabeth and King George the sixth visited the United States eyes of the world are on Washington as Secretary of State hull welcomes Great Britain's King George the sixth and Queen Elizabeth this is the first time in history that ruling British monarchs have ever set foot in the capital of the nation that once formed a part of their empire prior to the King and queens visit there had been some leftover attention from the Revolutionary War and the war of 1812 but with conflict looming FDR knew it was important the American people saw the British leaders favorably he knew cooperation between the two nations would be important an FDR also knew that convincing people to support Britain and its war efforts would be an uphill battle but after yarra had a plan and this is where the hotdogs come in FDR decided to host a very casual picnic at his home in Hyde Park New York where the king and queen would be able to eat hotdogs and drink beer alongside cooks gardeners and other estate staff and if this story sounds familiar to you you may have seen the movie Hyde Park on Hudson which romanticized the event so how did the royal couple respond to such an atypical and informal meal well the day after the picnic the New York Times ran a story on the front page titled King tries hotdogs and asked for more the casual meal was a public relations success Americans now viewed the royal couple as down-to-earth leaders instead of stuck-up rulers and just two months later FBR would successfully convince Congress to financially back the British after Germany declared war the meal helped develop a strong political and social alliance between the u.s. and Great Britain's that would continue for years historians have called the events of that day the hot dog summit and it's considered one of the most diplomatic least significant moments in culinary history it's also a fantastic example of culinary diplomacy at its best like Phil said culinary diplomacy deals with governments interacting with other foreign governments but it's also probably better defined as a form strategic communication that helps countries achieve political objectives and these political objectives can be a few things sometimes the goal is just to maintain or establish a relationship or the goal can be to project a narrative to the public about a relationship whether it's true or not think of it like a strategic PR plan other times the aim is more policy based like convincing a nation to sign on to a deal a hata countries do those things well a lot of world leaders host official state dinners the dinners welcome foreign leaders as guests of honor so how does culinary diplomacy work and practice at something like a state dinner well there's a few different ways heads of state have tried to create better relations through food sometimes a menu item will be named for the guest of honor for example when LBJ hosted South Korean leader Park chung-hee in 1965 on the menu for dessert was a meringue Park other times leaders offer a menu that combines food from a guest home country with food from the host country for example in 2015 when Obama hosted Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a he served cheeky Maki Caesar sashimi Hawaiian pineapple tempura topped with Virginia ham American Wagyu beef tenderloin and a Chardonnay from California here's White House executive chef Cris Comerford explaining how she prepared for that dinner we tried to do American hospitality American food with whatever nuances of the visiting country would be but culinary diplomacy doesn't always have to be a formal state dinner sometimes it happens spontaneously over a shared meal in 2015 the United States was segoe she ating with Iran on a nuclear deal tensions were really high during these negotiations and reportedly talks almost broke down five separate times but on July fourth Iranians offered to eat a meal with Americans under one condition no one was allowed to talk business the Americans agreed to those terms and both sides ate together 10 days after that meal President Obama made this announcement today after two years of negotiations the United States together were international partners has achieved something that decades of animosity has not a comprehensive long-term deal with Iran that will prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon culinary diplomacy experts have said the meal was crucial in making the deal and they've said the relaxed dinner allowed each side to look at each other differently but a 10 that culinary diplomacy aren't always successful in May of last year Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu invited Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a to a meal at his official residence and the dinner went rather smoothly or at least it did until dessert came because that's when Prime Minister ah Bey was presented with chocolate pralines served inside sculptures of leather shoes and if you're not familiar with Japanese culture shoes aren't exactly a welcome sight at the dinner table there was a mediate outrage over the dish a senior Israeli diplomat who worked in Japan told an Israeli newspaper quote there is nothing more despised in Japanese culture than shoes not only do they not enter their houses while wearing shoes you will not find shoes in their offices either it is equivalent to serving a Jewish guest chocolates in a dish shaped like a pig but governments aren't just using food as a tool when they interact with other governments they also try to influence foreign public's through food – that's something scholars call gastro diplomacy but how can a country influence a foreign public through food well to answer that we're gonna look at Thai food you may have noticed much like Mexican and Chinese food Thai restaurants are everywhere in the United States but unlike those two other nationalities Thai food isn't popular because there are a lot of Thai people in the US last year the Royal Thai Embassy in DC said there were just 300,000 taya mericans but there are more than 5,300 Thai restaurants in the States that's about one Thai restaurant for every 55 Thai Americans and that is just a crazy high ratio for comparison there's just one Mexican restaurant for every 650 Mexican Americans so why are there so many Thai places to eat when there are so few time arrogance well that largely has to do with a Thai government program created in the early 2000s that hope to expand the number of Thai restaurants across the globe so how did the Thai government hope to achieve that will it answer that we spoke with Paul ROC our a leading gastro diplomacy expert he told us the Thai program had several different initiatives they gave soft loan financing to help it increase the number of Thai restaurants around the globe they made sure that these restaurants had access to authentic Thai ingredients they helped create special access for Thai visas for visas for Thai chefs so that authentic Thai chefs were able to work at these restaurants in fact even New Zealand had a special Thai chef visa why would a government like Thailand spend so much time and money trying to open Thai restaurants around the globe well there's a few reasons first the government hope to use food for something known as soft power hard power is how countries get what they want through force or coercion whereas soft power is how countries are able to promote themselves through the attractiveness of their culture through the attractiveness of their institutions it's how you get people to appreciate who you are more and like you more because of that so basically the Thai government was hoping the more Thai food people eat the more interest they would have in Thai culture which in turn the government hoped would increase tourism but another reason Thailand started the program was to increase the nation's brand but what is that it's like any kind of bread you know companies have brands countries have brands as well it's your immediate reaction so if I say France you say the Eiffel Tower baguettes wine so was it a success well it's kind of hard to measure the influence of soft power or a nation's brand but there are some numbers we can look at when it comes to Thailand's program in 2002 there were just 5,500 Thai restaurants around the globe but as of last year there were more than 15,000 that's about three times more Thai restaurants around the world since the launch of the program the program has also helped the country become a tourist destination in 2001 Thailand welcomed more than 10 million visitors but today Tallinn is the most visited country in Southeast Asia last year more than 38 million people visited the country but we're not talking about Thailand's program just because it's been really successful it also sparked a global gastro diplomacy movement before the early 2000s other governments weren't allocating resources to influence foreigners through food but Paul says that's not the case anymore Thailand really created the paradigm of which other a lot of other countries started working on – our diplomacy programs Peru Lebanon Malaysia South Korea and the Philippines are just some examples of countries that now have government-sponsored gastro diplomacy programs but these programs aren't always following Thailand's example – the letter South Korea's gastro diplomacy program is a really good example of this their program combines food and another cultural element music South Korea is really well known for kpop thanks to massive global hit songs and super groups like BIGBANG Girls Generation and BTS so government designed its gastro diplomacy around connecting Korean food like kimchi to kpop and there are even English kpop music videos promoting the country's cuisine Paul says Korea chose this approach because foreigners were confusing Korean food for Japanese food they did kind of this two pronged program of promoting South Korean cuisine and also South Korean music k-pop and the kimchi diplomacy because the South Korean nation brand was being cannibalized by Japan people didn't recognize South Korean products as the except 3 and I thought they were Japanese they weren't so familiar with it but ultimately South Korea has been pretty successful with their approach to gastro diplomacy – you've probably noticed South Korean food trucks have become massively popular in recent years but just like culinary diplomacy not every gastro diplomacy effort has been excessively 2000s North Korea opened several state-owned restaurants in countries like Cambodia China and Lao but in 2016 13 North Koreans working in one of those restaurants escaped and they asked for political asylum in South Korea that's probably not the image North Korea hoped to project through their food but ultimately even though some of the things we talked about today are new concepts food has been part of our politics for a really long time sometimes in ways we might not even remember our world is shaped by our cuisine I mean people that what started the American Revolution was a tax on tea what helped start and sparked the Indian independence by was a tax on salt and Gandhi's march to the sea – to create salt I mean these are things that are so intrinsically based in our history and politics and culture and we just don't always think about it because it's so commonplace and we'll continue to see food play an important role in politics in the future and so with all that said everything we've showcased it brings us to the part of the video where we pass the question off to you what are your thoughts around this what do you think about the use of food and politics do you think it's an effective tool for politicians to negotiate or do you think it's actually less impactful than experts think what do you think about gastro diplomacy programs and all thoughts we'd love to know in those comments down below also hey while you're at it if you like this video let us know hit that like button if we did our job well you want to see more of this kind of content in the future you want to see deep dives into the news be sure to hit that subscribe button also if you want more news be sure to head over to rogue Rock accom slash support we contribute to what we're doing with videos articles everything else but with that said of course as always thank you so much for watching and I'll see you with the next rogue rocket deep dive

42 thoughts on “Food and Politics?! Why Countries are Spending Millions on ‘Gastrodiplomacy’

  1. I’m so high I thought this was a documentary after a while and then you popped up 😂😭
    I’m shook

  2. Great video! Very informative and entertaining. If I may offer 1 point of feedback, I'm not from the US so "acronyming" the names of your presidents makes a story harder to follow for me.

  3. I kinda like this video aesthetic better than the regular Phillip Defranco show. The video placeholder, intro and the thumbnail flow really well together, I just really like the paper theme.

  4. Thats interesting. As a kiwi is explains why there a ton of Thai eateries just in my lil city alone. Which in size compared to a U.S city, m city would just be a small town at best XD. Went to really good Thai restraunt in Auckland on my birthday trip and had the best fried rice I have ever eaten.

  5. Let the people who worked on the story, introduce it. I love Phil, but give more credit and airtime to the other staff.

  6. But! Trump serves McDonalds. He serves the same food to the WNBA players, while several of them were opposing the food because it was disgusting.

  7. Food can bring out the best in a conversation. Its been used as the barganing tool in kingdoms that date way back in history. Banquits for visiting kingdoms both to make them feel comfortable and welcomed or to show wealth and influence. Love this episode 💜

  8. It’s cause foods god damn good!.. fuck it’s 2:00 am and I haven’t eaten dinner yet… welp, guess I ain’t going to sleep yet.

  9. I have not eaten since about 10AM this morning and it is now 12:55AM the next day. Now that you've successfully reminded me I've not eaten in so long, I'm about to go grub.

  10. I’m absolutely loving these deep dives! They’re always about super interesting things and I love listening to them and learning while I knit!

  11. Funny they didn't mention the US used this soft power food thing the most, how was it? No country that has a McDonald's ever declared war to the US. It's most likely why, when the Crimea crisis started, McDonald's sold all their business in Romania and other eastern european countries to franchisors in order to focus their resources on the Russian market. Taking down Putin one Big Mac at a time

  12. This channel is great so far. Love the chance to learn more about a topic I probably never would have even thought of otherwise

  13. Super interesting! I was very skeptical of the concept but you won me over on the concept with the example of Korean kimchi diplomacy.

  14. I think food is more powerful than people give it credit for. Food is so central to culture and interpersonal relations. When's the last time you got together with someone and didn't eat anything?

  15. I think it works diplomacy thru food or increase in tourism. I ate thai food when i was younger and i remember several resturants popping up in Madison, Wi. Then the movie the beach came out which made me want to go to thailand. I dont think it was the food but it definitely would be something i would have thought well the food here in the states are delicious so cool. I didn't really know the difference in japanese from Korean food but i have seen more of a push in the past 3 years towards Korean food. I eat Kimchi from watching youtubers but i don't listen to kpop so the bridge has never made lol. I guess never thought about food as a bridge for other countries and government's to influence eachother and laws. I just love your content. Keep it coming. ❤

  16. I remember when Bush was running against Gore a lot of people were saying "he seems like the type of guy I'd want to have a beer with."

  17. 1939. The year my mother was born. The year my Grandfather went to war. No offense America, but the reason the Allies won WWII is because men like my Grandfather decided that the Nazis were not welcome on this planet.

    Case in point: My grandpa spent a year in a French hospital recovering after a German shell shattered his ribs and tore out his left lung. During his recovery he hand-crafted an intricate dining tray that I place under my dinner plate to this very day. After being released from the hospital he did not come home to Canada. He proceeded to go and get himself shot again, which – in his later days – he thought was the absolute most hilarious thing that could have happened. He had a scar that started below his left breast, ran over his shoulder and down his back to about where his kidneys were. And he was proud of it.

    When they finally sent him home (basically because the left side of his torso was missing save his heart), he and my grandmother went on to produce numerous infants. When I was young, every time I got a "boo-boo" Grandpa would say, "Stop crying boy. Its a long way from your heart."

    His name was Everett Franklin Phillips. One of millions of Allied heroes who made sure I did not have to grow up speaking German. Yet he had nothing bad to say about the enemy soldiers he faced. He taught me to respect everyone – no matter their race, nationality, religion, or sex.

    Once, while sitting around a fire near his trailer at Birdsall Beach, I had asked the old man a few too many questions about The War. He told me this: "Never judge anyone, boy. You never know who'll you need to save your life." Being a fool, I took "save your life" literally. That's not what he meant.

    Oh! And when my mom gave me an Atari 2600 for Christmas in 1978, Grandpa Everett thought that Tank Battle was the greatest fucking thing every invented. You know what? He was right. As per usual.

    God bless, and greet everyone you meet with a smile. You never know when you'll need them to save your life.

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