Wednesday, March 04, 2015


 White as sand of Muizenberg
     Spun before the gale --
    Buy my heath and lilies
     And I'll tell you whence you hail!
Under hot Constantia broad the vineyards lie --
Throned and thorned the aching berg props the speckless sky --
Slow below the Wynberg firs trails the tilted wain --
Take the flower and turn the hour, and kiss your love again!
-Rudyard Kipling, "The Flowers"

Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Great Gatsby

Already diving into South African gastrodiplomacy over a gatsby--a Cape Town's special version of a hoagie.

I found Yusra's Kitchen, which served up a a Cape Malay curry steak hoagie loaded with "chips" that stained my fingers a curry-green.

I got a half, and could only eat half of a half before I was full.


Is Georgian cuisine the next big thing? I hope so, it is delish.

A scientific explanation of what makes Indian food so delicious

Sunday, March 01, 2015


You know you rocked the show when the audience throws hundreds of trillions of dollars at you! Thanks Harare, it's been epic.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Wild is Life

I am a giraffe whisperer. And I got snuffleupagused by a baby elephant.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

NL Zim updates

More updates from Zim done in film

Kane also has a great blog update on the NL site.  

I wish I had time for such things....


My friend and culinary diplomacy colleague Sam Chapple-Sokol has a great piece on the recent gastrojingoism controversy that France invented "le gastrodiplomatie."

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


난에서 인용 한국어 위장 외교에 큰 조각에 매거진을 렌더링하고!김치를 전달합니다!

I am quoted in Render: Feminist Food & Culture Quarterly on a great piece on Korean gastrodiplomacy! Pass the kimchi!

Monday, February 09, 2015

NL Bangladesh Video

A Great vid of Dhaka Days

The Diplomacy of Dune; the last meter

"Often, I must speak otherwise than I think.  That is called diplomacy."
-Frank Herbert, Dune Messiah

And other public diplomacy thoughts: I wonder if U.S. public diplomacy efforts of connecting on "the last three feet" are hindered by the fact that everyone uses the metric system ("The last meter?").  Only three countries don't use the metric system: America, Liberia and Burma.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Friday, February 06, 2015


“Rocinante was of more value for a true traveller than a jet plane. Jet planes were for business men.” ― Graham Greene, "Monsignor Quixote"

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

The View from Athens

This Odysseus arrived to Greece at a rather auspicious juncture--when the Fates of Pelop's land are swirling about.

My arrival to Athens coincided with the fallout of the Greek elections, in which the Syriza Party swept the Greek elections, and with it changed the tone in direction of the country.

Since the Greek economic crisis hit, the country has been in a period of austerity imposed upon it by the Troika (IMF, ECB, European Commission) and it has devastated the economic and social fabric of the country.

To be sure, there has been some positive outcomes from the transparency that the post-crisis reforms have enacted, but on the whole Greece has been suffering.

Yet with the stirring election results, the Greek people voted against the continuing policies of austerity--delivering a clear mandate to Syriza; the Greek people rose their democratic voice to declare a clear message to the EU that the austerity policies will not be continued.

There is a feeling in Greece post-election that the country again has a say in its affairs.  That it won't be dictated to from afar, but that its people will have a say in the economic direction of the country.

And there is a realization that Greece now has leverage.  Greece has become a voice of change for Europe's Southern countries--those who have suffered through austerity for the last few years.
With elections coming in Spain and other parts of Europe that have similarly been under austerity, and the rise in the polls of parties similar to Syriza like Podemos in Spain, it is the European Union that is now afraid:

The election of a radical-left Syriza-led government in Greece on Jan. 25 has electrified European politics. After years of being told that there is no alternative to bowing to German demands for crushing austerity and wage cuts, the plucky Greeks have dared to stand up to Angela Merkel’s government in Berlin — and other Europeans have stood up and noticed. While the immediate focus is on the showdown between the new Greek government and eurozone authorities over demands for debt relief — and the (unlikely) possibility that Greece could end up ejected from the currency union — Athenian defiance is already having wider political repercussions.
Long accustomed to treating Greece as an unruly but ultimately submissive colony, horrified German policymakers and their eurozone minions can scarcely believe that it is in outright insurrection.
Syriza has been showing some deft gamesmanship in showing that it will not accept "business-as-usual" of economic diktats to Greece by the Troika, but rather will be a partner in the solution to this long-festering malaise.

Called "the rock star finance minister," Greece's new Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis comes to the negotiating table in a leather jacket in contrast to the staid suit-and-tie Eurocrats, bringing pro-growth economic proposals that stand as similarly in contrast as his attire.  More importantly, he has been visiting capitals across Europe to shore up support for Greece from like-minded partners.  Greece is playing the game again, not just sitting back and accepting terms of economic surrender.

The tables have turned, and Greece has leverage, because a "Grexit" spells more doom for the European integration project than it does for Athens.  If the EU cannot keep Greece in the fold, it shows that the process of European integration can indeed be reversed.  Already there are hints from the European Commission that the Troika group may be scrapped.

It has been a fascinating time to watch real democracy unfold from the place of its birth.

Goldberg, Iceburg

What's the difference?

Latin/Latinos, same vein.  Vermont considered a Latin motto, and commenters said it should be deported (to Rome!)

On second thought, maybe we do need less vaccinations....

Monday, February 02, 2015


"But one thing no man can hide is ravening hunger, a cursed plague that brings men plenty of trouble. Oared ships are even launched because of it, bringing evil to enemies on the waves."

Gaul Gall

Wow, France claims to have invented 'gastrodiplomatie.'

And I quote:
Au passage, le locataire du Quai-d’Orsay a inventé un nouveau concept : la "gastrodiplomatie".

Look, I love France.  I love its cheese; I love its wine; I love its people.  But for the venerable Quai-d'Orsay to claim they invented gastrodiplomacy is beyond laughable.  Right.  And I invented the croissant.

I am going to have to take France to The Hague for Crimes against Gastrodiplomacy.  ICJ, here I come.

Saturday, January 31, 2015


Or, how a shady U.S. Ambassador/Viceroy to Kosovo shepherded a mega-highway deal for Bechtel that the country didn't need, only to leave to join Bechtel operations soon after.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Rockower

Ending Greece's nightmare

γεια σας Ελλάδα (Hello Greece)

I arrived to Greece during some interesting times, to say the least.

Paul Krugman has a great column on the moralizing of Europa over the Greek debt crisis, where the crisis really came from and the fallacies behind it.

Krurman has a second great column on the Greek debt crisis, and the Greek myths behind it:
First, about those myths: Many people seem to believe that the loans Athens has received since the crisis broke have been subsidizing Greek spending.
The truth, however, is that the great bulk of the money lent to Greece has been used simply to pay interest and principal on debt. In fact, for the past two years, more than all of the money going to Greece has been recycled in this way: the Greek government is taking in more revenue than it spends on things other than interest, and handing the extra funds over to its creditors.

Or to oversimplify things a bit, you can think of European policy as involving a bailout, not of Greece, but of creditor-country banks, with the Greek government simply acting as the middleman — and with the Greek public, which has seen a catastrophic fall in living standards, required to make further sacrifices so that it, too, can contribute funds to that bailout.
I just got here, so haven't had too much of a chance to gauge the feelings around the agora. Just initial conversations are a bit of pride that Greece feels like it has a say again in its own affairs, and a bit of realization that Greece has a lot more leverage now, especially as elections loom in Spain and other countries wracked by austerity and with parties similar to Syriza rising in the polls.

Guns, sex and arrogance: I hated everything about America — until I moved here

An interesting article on perspectives of America from abroad, and how they change up close.

What Andrew Sullivan's exit says about the future of blogging

An interesting article on the future of blogging:
The first is that, at this moment in the media, scale means social traffic. Links from other bloggers — the original currency of the blogosphere, and the one that drove its collaborative, conversational nature — just don't deliver the numbers that Facebook does. But blogging is a conversation, and conversations don't go viral. People share things their friends will understand, not things that you need to have read six other posts to understand. Blogging encourages interjections into conversations, and it thrives off of familiarity. 
Social media encourages content that can travel all on its own. Alyssa Rosenberg put it well at the Washington Post. "I no longer write with the expectation that you all are going to read every post and pick up on every twist and turn in my thinking. Instead, each piece feels like it has to stand alone, with a thesis, supporting paragraphs and a clear conclusion."  
As anyone who reads this blog knows, I have not been writing as much anymore.  I would probably cite a few reasons in varying levels of importance: a) I have a girlfriend who takes up a lot of the time that used to be spent on the blog.  b) My work leaves me little time to blog--I am so focused on the details of the programs I run that I scarcely have time to come up for air.  The second point does sadden me a bit, because at a time when I have so much fodder to discuss, I have so little time to discuss it.

There is also a factor that I should honestly admit: the social factor of social media.  When I post something on Facebook, be it a picture or an article or my thoughts, there is immediate feedback and a bit of positive reinforcement that simply does not come with posting a tome on my blog.  Granted, it is a shallow bit of "likery" but, to be perfectly honest, it is still more fulfilling (slightly) to get some feedback that social media offers.

But maybe I will make it a goal to get back more into the habit of writing.  I do miss the cathartic nature of getting the plague of my ideas off my shoulders and into the ethereal blog space.  This is something that the blog offers, and that I miss.  

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Looking for answers on Benghazi?

Then look no further!  Yes, I helped cause the Benghazi attack!  Through CULINARY DIPLOMACY!  Thanks to some neckless congressman from South Carolina and Fox News, somehow gastrodiplomacy is a reason for Benghazi!

This would be the second time I am being implicated for my role in the Benghazi attack!  Always better to be infamous than famous....

An intro to DC Conflict Cuisine

A great piece by Dr. Johanna Mendelson-Forman on conflict cuisine in DC.

In a city where politics and diplomacy are the lifeblood of our being, it may be worth a moment to consider that the arrival of new ethnic restaurants often mirrors of the state of play in any given hot-spot around the globe. Food is borderless and a tangible sign of just how globalized we are.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Don't preach about zionism

The best speech about Israel and Zionism in years.  Golda would be proud.

Utrecht (II)

The next morning it was snowing a soft white.  A modest winter wonderland.  In the snow dusting, Marianna and I went wandering through the snowscape, with the frozen ponds and ducks and other birds walking on the frozen crust.

I got to really play with my camera--focusing in on little waterdrops hanging from the frozen trees.  The melting icedrops dripping from the branches gave the melting pond top a textured indentations like that of concrete.

In the resplendent noon sun, I sipped espresso off the shimmering canal.

Marianna and I made our way back to Moksi for lunch, and it was incredible.    I left it to Michael the chef to surprise us.

Out came plates of spiced curry chicken and lamb, Vibrant roasted peppers and aubergines  over rice, sate noodles and roti filled with chickpea flower.

Curry-stained yellow fingers were my delicious fate. Truly a confluence of worlds on my plate.  Curries and sumptuous spiced 

After an immaculate lunch, Marianna and I met her friends at a store that had a cafe and restaurant on the roof that gave a panorama view of the city.  I went out one door and took some pictures.  Then I noticed a longer roof top with a better view.  I opened the shut doors and walked out onto the roof, and shut the doors behind me.  I walked on the roof top, past people in their conference rooms as i shot pics of the best view of the city at sunset.

And it also got me a nice chat with Dutch security.  When I came back out through the door, a security woman beckoned me over.  She asked if I had just gone outside.  I said yes, and I pointed at my camera.  I told her that I had not seen a sign.  The security woman told me that I had tripped an alarm, and more security was coming.  I offered my apologies.

We sat and chatted a bit.  I told her of my work, and that I had just come from Senegal, and was on my way to Zimbabwe.  That is very cool, she said.  When the security guard arrived, she politely explained to him the situation, and that I had just walked out for a photo.  He nodded and grunted and left.  She wished me a good life and safe travels.  The Dutch are so understanding of photographic pursuits.  

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Utrecht (I)

We spent the morning passing through a grey frost of foggy pea soup.  We ventured lost through the Oudegracht canal, searching for Surinamese.  After hunger and tire set in, we ventured into Graaf Floris to warm our weary bones.

Steeped in old world charm of velvet, mahogany and burlap, we sat by the fiery hearth sipping hot spiced wine to warm the body and soul.

I had a traditional Dutch beef stew prepared with abbey beer and gingerbread.  The beer-braised beef could be cut with a spoon.  I drizzled the stew on frittes and dabbed it with crusty warm bread.

The Alexandrians sensed, of course,
that these were mere words and theatricals.
But the day was warm and poetical,
the sky a pale azure

Keeping the cold day at bay with hot spiced wine as I read the Greek poetry of Cavafy as the old master spins verse of ghost Greek kings facing the fates.

"a Greek gentleman in a straw hat, standing absolutely motionless at a slight angle to the universe," was how E.M. Forester described Cavafy.

Along the canal, we sipped rooibos tea  and kafie verkeerd in a warm cafe, admiring the reflections of the arched bridges.

We ventured back through the city to the old cathedral that once was the center of Utrecht.  We wandered through the cloisters of the old marvel.

We wandered through the funky eclectic little canaled city.  Marianna got earrings of eggshells and of moonstones.

Eventually we found the Surinamese I had been searching for.  While she snapped pictures of the evening lights reflecting in the canal, I popped in to a found Moksi.

"Hello Paul," said the owner.  She recognized me immediately; I recognized the smell of sumptuous curries.

Not only was I remembered, but I was up on the wall.  The article I wrote on Edible Nation Branding for the Netherlands was prominently displayed on the wall.  I beamed.

I chatted with the owner about life and other things.  They had opened up a second shop near the cathedral bell tower.  It was next to a Greek shop, and I had seen it earlier but hadn't realized its provenance.

I planned to come back the next day for lunch.

The evening was spent in the dire attempts to stay warm.  Some warmth was indeed found over frittes slathered in curry ketchup.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Buzz buzz

Or in my parental generation's nomenclature, I turned a phrase. It sounds even better in French.  Or Dutch at the moment.

The Idiot, Amsterdam style

But I like being free, 
and that makes me
an idiot, I suppose.
-Stan Rogers

An idiot but smart enough to keep coming back to this ethereal city.

A bulldogged evening over silver haze, hot chocolate, Belgian waffles and earl grey tea.

The bulldogged reflections of the canal gingerbread decor shines bright in the canal water.  I am off to have fun with my new camera.

Terminal man

Sipping pear schnapps and eating chocolate pudding in the Lufthansa transit lounge.

Traveling a ton has its perks in the transit lounges.

I wish all transit lounges could have German perks, and open taps.

I think I may start an online magazine, rating transit lounges around the world.

Good terminal karma is access to the lounge; great terminal karma is having the lounge next to the gate.  Yes, I will have one more for the road.

PS: the overly-itinerant food guide to airport lounges and airline food, take 1: Hamburg Lufthansa lounge has great carrot-ginger soup!

15 Tons

Paid off my first grad school student loan. Now just 5 more usurious student loans to service to the vultures.

Or down from 16 tons to 15.....yes, I owe my soul to the company store.. .‪#‎AmericanDream‬