Sunday, March 18, 2012

Maroc gastrodiplomatie

On thursday night, I headed over with some friends for an event of Moroccan gastrodiplomacy, hosted at the French Embassy.  The event, Morocco on the Road of Spices, was part of the Francophonie DC 2012 festival.  The program was quite interesting, and echoed a bit of my own gastrodiplomacy lectures.  The lecture was given in French by Fatema Hal, a Moroccan culinary author and anthropologist.  We arrived a little late, and were welcomed to a film of piling mounds of couscous as the chef was on screen describing various methods of making the wonderful dish.

She then gave a lecture in French that was translated.  She spoke about how, to know a human being, you must know his cuisine.  She also spoke about the history of the world is a history of spices.  Hal also spoke about how couscous could be used a medium for integration in France (Couscous for Coexistence?), and I was reminded of the Vindaloo against Violence campaign in Australia.  I think I need to write an op-ed on Moroccan coucous gastrodiplomacy.

She also spoke about the difference influences on Moroccan cuisine, and how it is not as influenced by French or Ottoman cuisines as Algerian or Tunisian cuisine.  She did mention, interestingly, that Moroccan cuisine was much affected by the fall of Andalucia and how Moroccan cuisine had gained much from Spanish Muslim and Spanish Jewish refugees who fled.

During the Q&A, I asked a question, noting that she mentioned how Moroccan cuisine had influenced Europe, and asked how Moroccan cuisine had influenced that of its West African neighbors, and vice versa.  The thought of West African cuisine had been on my mind since reading a review of Bukom Cafe in the WaPo (“A layer of oil on top of the food is a way of honoring you.”).

The only problem was that when the lecture let out, we expected there to be mounds of couscous waiting.  The lecture requested a $15 donation, and the program noted that there was a reception to follow sponsored by the Moroccan Embassy.  Yet there was nothing save some empty plates of finger foods.  Gastrodiplomacy fail.  If you are requesting donations for a food lecture, there should have been real food to follow.  Major missed opportunity by the Moroccan Embassy in this manor, and left us with a bit of a bad taste as we trudged out to Georgetown to find Persian food instead.

No comments: