Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Charm City; Howard & PD; Good jerk diplomacy

I had an illuminating morning, one that put things into a little more perspective.  Some of it came from my day prior up in Baltimore.  Nothing like getting out on the train gives me the ability to grab a little perspective.  I was up in B-More hanging out with an old buddy Andy.  We hung out at the harbor, eating decadent pastries and drinking iced coffee from Bonaparte's.  I had a croissant filled with almond marzipan and covered with almond slivers and powdered sugar.  We hung in Fell's Point at a pirate's deck, and back in the heart of Charm City, near the city's own Washington monument.  The city lives up to its nickname if you know where to look.

Today, I took a little inspiration and adventured down to Howard to wander around the campus.  Sounds silly but I never realized WHUR was "Howard University Radio".  I also had thoughts about a public diplomacy exhibit at Howard's comm school to focus on African-American contributions to public diplomacy.  It could make for an interesting symposium or exhibition to look at Jazz Ambassadors like Louis Armstrong, Carl Rowan and the USIA, and the role of the Civil Rights movement in US public diplomacy.  If I remember correctly, I think Nick Cull mentioned that USIA was far more integrated than State, and it would be interesting to look at that legacy.

On my way back, I found Negril, a tasty Jamaican restaurant.  I had some lip-burning, mouth-numbing, nose-running fiery goodness.  Good curried vegetables of eggplant, tomatoes, onions and chick peas with stewed cabbage over rice-and-peas.  Washed down with a Ting.  I was sitting next to a fellow from Bombay.  He was sweating bullets.  We both offered our respect to the heat.

Of course, this had me thinking of Jamaican gastrodiplomacy. I can still hear a fellow beckoning me over to his tin drum barbecue, "Good jerk chicken, two bills mon."  Two hundred Jamaican Dollars ($3) on the streets of funky Kingston for fiery delicious jerk chicken that I demolished in a feral fashion.

Jamaica already has a recognized brand from Reggae, Bob Marley and Rastas.  Red Stripe charm and fiery jerk chicken.  Add in rum and white sand beaches and you have a solid nation brand. 

 So perhaps a little gastrodiplomacy to widen awareness of beef patties, curry goat, oxtail and other Jamaican delicacies can promote Jamaica to the foodie class.  Delicious favorites like vinegar-marinated Escovitch fish with festival (corn bread fritters) could be a foodie favorite and crossover dish to the restaurant set.  Meanwhile, I would promote tin drum can jerk chicken to the bbq south; and to veggies, the curried veggies and rice-and-peas. And all the delicious drinks like the aforementioned ting or ginger beer, like the one I bought to douse out the last flames.  

I might have to send my recipe for Jamaican gastrodiplomacy off to the Jamaica Gleaner.

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