‘The best [Chinese] ambassadors to India are [fried noodle], sweet and sour pork, wonton and crispy fried duck,’ said Karan Thapar, president of Indian TV company Infortainment, when he was interviewed by China.org.cn late last month.
Thapar, also a distinguished anchorman in India, expressed his belief that Chinese food is a great way to introduce Chinese culture to India, going as far as to proclaim that currently the foremost form of cultural exchange between the two Asian giants is ‘delicious’ Chinese cuisine. He was, however, also careful to note that although food is a great way to learn about a foreign culture, it’s also paramount that people travel to the country and discover its history.
Another often televised figure, the Dalai Lama, also spoke out about Chinese food, culture and India this past weekend. The revered spiritual leader reportedly told the Indian Express on Sunday, ‘No matter where they are, the Chinese find a way to promote their food.’ He then went on to urge Indian people to similarly promote their traditional values and culture to the world, but in their case not with dumplings and Peking duck, rather with ideals of non-violence and harmony.
I personally agree with the idea of food having the unique ability to bring about new understanding and knowledge between cultures. Even now I can quite vividly recall dinners at my friends’ homes as a child and always learning something new about their backgrounds through those experiences—in learning to accept their food, in some way I learned also to accept difference. And as for India spreading ideas of non-violence and harmony, we can certainly hope for the best, whether it’s through activism…or daal.