November 18, 2018
This Master’s degree took three-and-a-half years to complete. During that time, I have come to believe that international relations is, fundamentally, the study of how to align our preferred method of communication with one another in the most optimal manner. For those of us obsessed with eating, is there a better communicator than food? Is there a greater medium to convey that we—despite different shades of color, religion, or sexual orientation—are more alike than not? Food can provide for a common perspective and unite us when we share a meal together.
My pursuit of an international relations degree was born partly out of a love for all ethnic cuisines and a strong desire to learn about people from different countries through food. For me, I would be remiss if I were to eat blindly without considering the human history and multitude of factors that make it all possible. Food comes from culture, aligned with customs and traditions but also of transformations, conscious or not. I view food as language, for the words invented to describe plants and animals native to a specific region and for new ingredients brought by travelers from faraway lands. Food is also people and their idiosyncratic ways: their joys and heartaches; their paths in life, whether to the next village or across an ocean; their loves; their losses; their triumphs; and their tragedies. Most of all, I see food as memory composed of a hodgepodge of certain full truths, some occasional half truths, and when necessary, complete fiction that seems all too plausible.
Sometimes, the world can seem too large and too strange with hundreds of countries, thousands of languages, distant lands, and nonsensical politics. I believe each of us can take some measures to make it feel smaller. I choose to learn about the world through food and travel, eating as widely and deeply as I can and going as far as I am capable. I often find that what initially appears to be potentially uncomfortable will usually turn out to be a delightful experience, giving me a quickening sense of familiarity and having arrived home.