Sunday, September 09, 2012

DC Days

I had only meant to come back to DC for a 36-hour jaunt to start procuring Pakistan visas for Della Mae for their AMA trip and a culinary diplomacy soiree but forces conspired otherwise to keep me in the Imperial Capital.  For starters, the forms that were supposed to arrive by Thursday got delayed in the mail.  I realized that my "quick trip" was shot, but that if the package came friday then  could hang around and do the visa business on monday if need be.

Then the mailman came.  He dropped the mail in through the door, but there was no package.  After he dropped the mail, I ran after to see if he had more, since he sometimes delivers other people's mail to their house and is generally pretty bad.  I ran out to see if he might have overlooked it, but he said no.  Then 5 minutes later, he came back to the door with a goofy grin and a bit more mail.  My parents' mailman is the WORST.    Sure enough he came back with it, and some other mail too.  It is here, a bit wet so the forms are drying off on the dining room table, but we should be good on this one.

Later in the afternoon, I made my way over to Tenleytown to have coffee with Prof. Craig Hayden.  He is teaching a course on applied public diplomacy, and we were trying to figure out ways of communicating best practices and when I might be able to come in and lecture.

I spent the afternoon working before I headed down to State Department for their culinary diplomacy kick-off shindig.  Given the frou-frou nature of the event, I donned my nehru suit and went in style.  The event was kinda ridiculous, in a good way.  I took the elevator up to the State Dept penthouse, and was welcomed to a world of diplomatic pomp.  All sorts of treaties (hey look, Treaty of Paris!) and diplomatic accoutrements (First Sec o' State TJ's desk) abound.  The entree way set the stage nicely for the event with pictures and videos from the What's Cooking, Uncle Sam?  of diplomatic or presidential connections to food.  I spent a bit of time reading about a famous "chocolate memo" that was drawn up after Van Cliburn gave Khrushchev some American chocolates and declared American chocolate to be better than Russian.  This led to some diplomatic wranglings, apparently.  Also, fun stuff like menus for visiting foreign dignitaries (What do you serve to the King of Morocco?  Lemon garlic-crusted lamb, of course).

I ran into a culinary diplomacy compatriot Sam Chapple-Sokol, who previously wrote an excellent paper on the history of culinary diplomacy and its practice- which is going to be published in the Hague Journal of Diplomacy.  We made our way from the sumptuous cheese area to the lavish Franklin Hall for the schmoozing.  The drinks were fantastic, I tried some wonderful libations like a rye rickey.  I will get more into the crux of the evening on a piece I am working on for the State Dept's culinary initiative, but it was a memorable evening. Also, the view from the deck of the State Dept was absolutely immaculate.  You could see clear across the city as the sun was setting and lighting up Washington in full glory.

As the night was winding down, Sam and I collected our swag and made our way over to Tonic to discuss culinary diplomacy more in detail.  The night proved longer than expected because the red line was shut down from metro center to dupont, and we had to take a bus shuttle that took a long time.  Please Unsuck DC Metro.  It took so long, I fell asleep on the ride home, and woke up at Medical Center.  Rather than wait for another train, I hoofed it back to Bethesda.

Saturday was slow, and I spent it finishing the fourth book of Game of Thrones.  I need to time it better, because I burn through them to fast and don't have the next one ordered in time.  There was a brief but powerful storm that knocked out the lights for a minute, but seemed to hit the rest of the block and know out the power for much longer.

I met up with my friend Nora for a bite and drink over at the Harp and Fiddle in Bethesda, and we shook our collective heads at the situation in the Middle East, Sudans and other fun spots.  At some point over the night, I got chatting with a girl about my work in Iraq.  She very earnestly said to me thank you for your service.  I tried to explain that I wasn't serving in Iraq, but rather running a performing arts academy.  Didn't matter to her. Thank you for your service.  Not exactly stolen valor, but I felt a lil sheepish with the sentiments.

Today, I spent the day re-editing and finishing up my own paper on gastrodiplomacy for the Association of Public Diplomacy and Place Branding.  Also, my friend Brian came over to watch RG!!! take off.  I admit I was skeptical over the pick.  I was  wrong, mea culpa RGIII.  I haven't had that much fun watching the Skins since the last time Brian and I watched opening day when Brunell threw for a few TDs and Portis ran an 80 yard run.  We were ready to buy superbowl tickets that day, so I will temper my excitement but they looked solid.

Unexpected time in DC makes for a PD twofer on monday.  I will be attending a PD double header.
-Last Three Feet from PDC at AU 1pm-3pm.

- Zeb and Haniya at Georgetown's Mortara Center "Music, Politics, Women, and the Future in Pakistan" Monday September 10th 5-6:30.


Anonymous said...

C'mon, man, you couldn't get them to call it gastrodiplomacy? =) J

Paul Rockower said...

Haha, I would argue that their initiative is not gastrodiplomacy, but rather culinary diplomacy. Diplomacy is to public diplomacy as culinary diplomacy is to gastrodiplomacy.

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