By Anirudh Ramakrishna Phadke
(note: This article was originally published in “The Eastern Herald”. The link to the original destination is attached at the end of the page)
The COVID-19 outbreak has shaken the world and virtually paralyzed our daily lives. Many parts of the world are under strict lock-down with people themselves quarantining at home. With a severe health crisis still, food has somehow emerged as a form of unifier among these quarantined people. Among these unifiers, the so-called Dalgona Coffee topped the list. With only three key ingredients, this Korean style whipped coffee went viral on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok which in turn should remind India of its gastro (otherwise called as food) diplomacy in these times.
Brief on the Dalgona Coffee Trend:
The sudden trend of the Dalgona Coffee in Social Media has its origin point traced back to South Korea. Being a top coffee consumer among the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), this country also accounts for 6% of the total Asia Pacific coffee market and is one of the leading markets in the world. The citizens of South Korea consider coffee as a symbol of high status and as a method of socializing. The craze was started in late January when South Korean actor Jung Il-woo showcased a tutorial on how to make it in his social media handle. As a result of lock-down due to coronavirus pandemic, South Koreans have derived out a simple home-made version of the coffee. Milk, sugar and (whipped) coffee being the only three key ingredients, the Dalgona coffee has raged the social media and has also been dubbed as the quarantine coffee since it takes a major portion its preparation time in whipping.
Apart from Dalgona Coffee which became famous through spontaneous social media trend, other South Korean premium delicacy dishes such as Samgyeopsal, Bibimbap, and Kimchi have hit massive global popularity and especially among the American society due to the concrete efforts taken by the South Korean food department agencies and the concerned food industries. As a result, it can be certainly quoted as the finest example of South Korea’s soft power diplomacy in terms of the culinary sphere.
What this trend has to do with India’s Culinary Diplomacy?
In the present situation of lock-down and staying at homes becoming mandatory, people are shaping the culinary into a new domain. ‘Food’ and ‘International Relations’ do not fit into the same box, but still, the history of carefully planned dinners played its role. A state dinner planned whenever a two-nation head has a formal meeting not only celebrated diplomatic relations between them but also the best dishes of both the nations and that’s how food met with the politics. This always resulted in new shaping of the culinary domain and it never goes out of fashion. India is nevertheless home to rich culture and heritage of varieties of beverages and dishes.
Interestingly, Dalgona Coffee’s trend is linked to South Korea but the real origin of the coffee can be traced back to India itself. The coffee’s creamy and frothy upper crust layer filled with cold milk bears resemblance with ‘Phenti Hui’ a favorite drink of Indian households. While Filter Coffee (also known as Filter Kapi) which is brewed in the southern part of Indian households has hit massive global attention whereas the Phenti Hui coffee variant lacked it. Recent rage for the Dalgona Coffee, therefore, rings a timely remainder for India’s culinary tradition can gain massive popularity globally if only the people of India pay enough attention.
Another beverage named ‘Haldi Doodh’ otherwise in simpler terms known as turmeric latte rose to global fame way back in the year 2016 exemplifies India’s culinary potential. Turmeric is the core wisdom of India’s culinary tradition for ages, Google food data insights for the year 2016 showcased turmeric to be the breakout star of that year. The turmeric latte was then dubbed as the Golden Milk by The Guardian. Ancient Indian texts such as Ayurveda have mentioned that turmeric possesses antioxidants and healing properties towards respiratory diseases and viral infections. “I drink a mixture of turmeric instead of tea now,” said Indonesian President Joko Widodo in a government-organized press release. It is quoted that he has been drinking the mixture of turmeric since the outbreak of COVID-19. The Indian style of greeting ‘Namaste’ going global perhaps signifies that the time has come and many countries will start to adopt Indian lifestyle including its culinary.
The Trade Promotion Council of India (TPCI) has recently declared a huge demand for food products in the global markets due to the COVID-19 outbreak. India with its long and stronger rooted culinary heritage has a potential at the present situation to tap to boosts its global exports. India’s culinary wisdom certainly paves way for the country to become a global level leader in food diplomacy.
This article is originally published in “The Eastern Herald“. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author.