Local Food Project as a Soft Power Tool

local food traditional dishes

Embracing Unique and Traditional Dishes

Culture Minister Sermsak Pongpanich defends the “One Province, One Dish 2023” list initiated by the Cultural Promotion Department, emphasizing the importance of promoting local food as a soft power item. The project aims to raise awareness about traditional dishes from each of Thailand’s 77 provinces, especially those that are rare, unique, or almost forgotten.

The Project’s Objective and Selection Process

Contrary to popular belief, the One Province, One Dish project is not about selecting the most famous dishes from each province. Instead, it focuses on preserving and promoting traditional local food that may have disappeared or become less common. The department refers to the project as “Thailand Best Local Food: The Lost Taste.”

The selection process began earlier this year, with the Bangkok office seeking cooperation from the Provincial Cultural Council in each province. These councils were asked to propose three traditional dishes for the central expert committee in Bangkok to choose from. In just three months, the list was launched.

Debates Over Dish Selections

Some netizens and locals have expressed their discontent with the list, as it includes dishes that are barely familiar even to those living in the respective provinces. For instance, chef Pradit Pankaew from Krabi criticized the inclusion of pla chuk khruang (stuffed deep-fried mackerel) as the dish for his province, stating that he had never heard of it during his 30-year career.

Culture Minister Sermsak Pongpanich acknowledges that the project may lack adequate publicity to help people understand its purpose. Nevertheless, the department believes that highlighting lesser-known dishes will encourage locals to explore and appreciate their culinary heritage.

Upcoming Events and Future Plans

To showcase the selected 77 dishes, the Cultural Promotion Department will organize the Thailand Best Local Food seminar on September 20th. Additionally, an event called Local Wisdoms and Cultural Heritage is scheduled for September 21st at the Thailand Cultural Centre, honoring local dishes, individuals, and organizations that contribute to preserving cultural heritage.

The department also intends to publish a book featuring the 77 meals from the One Province, One Dish 2023 list. According to department director-general Kowit Pakamart, the project will continue in the coming years, with new lists highlighting other local foods.