I have a confession to make. For months I have been trying to figure out a way to best explain what the mission of this website is. In my head it makes complete sense but when I sit down to write my fingers stop. I have written about a wide variety of things; our life in Morocco, the travels I/we take, recipes, and stories that are important to me. The underlying theme has always been food – either directly or indirectly. It’s through food that I connect to the world.
This week I have had the chance to participate in a program hosted by the US State Department in Morocco called US Morocco Food Week. Guest chefs from the US come to Morocco to teach Moroccans about American food traditions and also learn about Moroccan food traditions. I’m in a unique position as I understand both sides of this equation. These months of thinking, brainstorming, and ultimately participating in this exchange have shown me this is 100% the right path I will continue to walk down with this website and any other work I do.
I am convinced that food diplomacy is an amazing tool that can be used to bring people from very different backgrounds and experiences together in a completely neutral way. But, I bet you’re asking “food diplomacy, what is THAT?!” It’s also called gastrodiplomacy and is pretty simple; “the easiest way to win hearts and minds is through the stomach.” Personally, I’m of the belief that if you sit down to a meal with someone, it’s pretty hard to walk away strangers. With the way things in the world are, getting to know people that are different from ourselves is one of the easiest ways to decrease conflicts.
I know you’re thinking this is quite over the top and idealistic but hear me out. Everyone eats. Everyone has their own food traditions and culture. The more I travel the more I learn about the similarities in cuisines. We’re really much more connected than we realize. Seeing these threads that connect us all is really powerful. Food is also a very safe and easy entry point to get to know another person.
When we host guests on our food tours we have learned that as much as they love the food, they are seeking a chance to connect deeper with Moroccan culture and to hear our stories. What is life like in Morocco? How do people bake their bread? What are the challenges that the everyday person faces? These are questions that people don’t feel comfortable asking strangers but when you’re sharing a meal it becomes a part of normal, natural conversation. It is an opportunity to get to know someone else and walk away knowing a little bit more and hopefully having made a new friend.
If you love food, culture and travel as much as I do then you’re in the right place. There will be much more culinary content coming your way! If you’re interested in the idea of food diplomacy here are a few great links to learn more.
- Culinary Diplomacy Podcast
- The Kitchen Sisters Podcast
- Day of Honey (a great novel)
- Dinner with Churchill
- Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking
- Cuisine and Empire
To follow along with US Morocco Food Week search the hashtag on social media (#USMoroccoFoodWeek) and watch for my posts coming soon!
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