“Lets do Thai”: Exploring Thai culture through multi-sensory food experiences t
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Thai cuisine is one of the most recognised cuisines in the world. Through successive campaigns, the Thai government has been highly successful in positioning its national cuisine internationally to create a strong culinary brand identity. Indeed, the world has been invited to “discover Thainess” through enjoying Thai cuisine. But eating Thai food is only one of many ways of experiencing Thainess through cuisine. Drawing on recent research on gastronomy tourism in Thailand, this presentation will consider other ways in which Thai culture can be experienced through food.In this presentation, the synergistic relationship between gastronomy as an expression of the culinary arts and creativity, innovation and design will be explored from an integrated cluster approach in which territorial assets, including cultural, heritage and historical traditions (food, crafts, folklore, visual arts, drama, literary references, and historical sites), and natural resources (landscapes, flora, fauna, physical, and social spheres of production), come together in a place-based approach that capitalises on the distinct local characteristics that define a particular place and imbue its food with cultural meaning and terroir. Particular consideration will be given to the aesthetics of rice in Thai cuisine and culture as a means of understanding Thainess. It will be argued that to utilise food as a means for understanding Thai culture through its cuisine, one needs to also understand (not just eat) rice in all its cultural manifestations.
Tracy Berno is an Associate Professor at AUT University in Auckland, New Zealand. Her research interests include the relationship between agriculture, tourism and cuisine, sustainable food systems and food politics. She has researched and published on agriculture, culture, cuisine and tourism in the South Pacific and Asia, and has co-authored two international award-winning books in this area, including one (Me’a Kai: The Food and Flavours of the South Pacific) which won best cookbook in the world award in 2010.
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