"The fate of nations," wrote Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, an 18th-century French gastronomer, "depends on how they eat." Today, a nation’s reputation depends on how well it feeds the rest of the world. One of the proofs may be the increase in culinary diplomacy. In 2012, the United States Secretariat of State launched a so-called "corps of chefs" whose task is to promote American cuisine around the world. The Thai government, on the other hand, sends chefs abroad to promote dishes such as Pad Thai and Massaman Curry through its Global Thai program. And South Korea, after all, has its "Kimchi diplomacy", reports The Economist.
But whose cuisine is at the top of the world's "food chain"? The answer is given by a study by Joel Waldfogel of the University of Minnesota. Using restaurant lists from TripAdvisor and sales data from Euromonitor, Waldfogel estimates kitchen trade between 52 countries. While traditional trade is measured on the basis of the value of goods and services, the author’s estimates of culinary exchange are based on the value of food in restaurants. Domestic consumption of foreign cuisine is treated as "import", while foreign consumption of domestic cuisine is treated as "export". Equilibrium determines whose kitchens have the greatest impact on the world market.
The United States is the largest net importer of foreign cuisines, spending $ 55 billion more than it earns from "feeding" the rest of the world with American food (excluding fast food, that figure is $ 134 billion). China is second on the list with a $ 52 billion deficit, followed by Brazil and the United Kingdom with deficits of about $ 34 billion and $ 30 billion. Italy, on the other hand, ranks among the world's largest food exporters. The world’s appetites for pasta and pizza, plus Italians ’relative indifference to other cuisines, provide the country with a surplus of $ 168 billion. Japan, Turkey and Mexico also boast solid surpluses (see chart above).
Waldfogel did not take into account culinary hybrids such as cronuta, a cross between a croissant and a donut, as well as a combination of Tex-Mex, that is, Mexican-American cuisine. Also, it doesn’t take authenticity into account - only a few Neapolitans would consider a pizza from the American fast food chain Domino’s a real homemade pizza. Despite this, some kitchens are more attractive than others. Thanks to globalization, you can eat spring rolls in San Francisco, but also cheeseburgers in Chongqing. The policy of culinary mercantilism could indeed make dining in restaurants a very boring practice.
Source / photo: The Economist,