“Culinary Diplomacy: Sharing Recipes, Building Bridges”- A Unique Contribution by Spouses of Envoys in Multilateral Relations’ Cooking

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Tazeen Akhtar 
Ume Laila+Ambreen Umar 

It is said that “there is a woman behind every successful person” and the wives of diplomats serving in Islamabad proved that with there hard work of two years in composition of a very rare ,rather first of its type, book Titled “Culinary Diplomacy: Sharing Recipes, Building Bridges”. No doubt delicious food is said to be the weakness of every human being and it is one of the best tools to win the hearts. When we talk about diplomacy, winning of hearts is the main purpose and desire of the diplomats. Thus the wives of the diplomats have paved the way for the smoother performance of their husbands’ duties. Here it is worth mentioning that we have no doubt in the abilities of diplomats. So they need not mind our words.

The book is a reflection of the harmony among the spouses of envoys and heads of international missions that they are united for good cause and they can take difficult tasks and they can prove themselves equal to the tasks.

The book is not just a Cook Book. It is full of information with brief history, traditions, cultural and culinary delights  of the almost whole world. It contains recipes of appetizers, salads, drinks , breads, cakes etc. Pakistani  Chicken Biryani ,Japanese Sushi, French Ratatouille, Italian Pasta , Austrian Viennese Schnitzel  Central Asian cuisine can be seen in the book.

Ghada Ahmed Fadel Yakoub, spouse of Ambassador of Egypt visualized this remarkable project two years ago, led this huge task, gathered the support of 50 spouses of the ambassadors and high commissioners and heads of international missions to complete the book that was launched at Serena Hotels Islamabad on 11 Feb 2020.

Another feather to her cap  is the income generated from the sale of the book will be contributed to The Ehsas Programme of Prime Minister Imran Khan that has been initiated to support the  needy persons , especially women of Pakistan.

. First Lady Mrs. Samina Alvi in a group photo during the launching ceremony of Cookbook “Culinary Diplomacy – Sharing Recipes, Building Bridges” in Islamabad on February 11, 2020.

The members of the team in alphabetical order are:Mrs Soraya Hamid, Spouse of HE Dato Mahmud Saidin, High Commissioner of Brunei ,General Editor. Mrs.Mahajabeen Ahsan, Spouse of HE Tarik Ahsan, High Commissioner of Bangladesh,Region Coordinator for Asia.Mrs. Tatiana Kazimirskaya, Spouse of HE Andrei Ermolovich, Ambassador of Belarus,Region Coordinator for Asia, and Latin America.Mrs Gulchekhra Sidikova, Spouse of HE Furkat Sidikov, Ambassador of Uzbekistan, Region Coordinator for Asia, Latin America.Mrs. Zlatomira Yurdakul, Spouse of HE I. Mustafa Yurdakul, Ambassador of Turkey, Region Coordinator for Europe.

Ms Ghada Ahmed thanked Serena Hotels, CEO Mr Aziz Boolani, General Manager Mr Michel Galopin , Mrs Waqar Boolani ,Mr Hussain Odhwani, Marketing Manager, Mr Khurram Awan, F&B Manager, andExecutive Chef Marc Fontenelle, Mr Luqman Afzal and Mrs Ayesha Afzal, Monal Restaurants,the Marriott Hotel, and its General Manager Mr. Maurizio Romani for their all out support and interest.

Five books signed by the first lady were auctioned during the event.Ambassador of Jordon, H.E Ibrahim Yala Al-Madani bought one  for  100 Thousand PKR.Spouse of Bosnian Ambassador  gave demonstration of a popular cuisine of her country.

Mrs. Samina Alvi, First Lady of Pakistan was chief guest at the launch ceremony while Mrs. Mehriene Qureshi, President of PFOWA ,Spouse of H.E. Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi was also prominent. Mr. Atadjan Movlamov, Dean of the Diplomatic Corps was also present.Ambassadors and their spouses from Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan,Kyrgyz Republic, Romania,Palestine,Nepal,Nigeria, Algeria, Indonesia,Yemen,Austria and a number of diplomats along with chefs and recipes of their respective countries participated in the book launching ceremony.

The book is the effort of Heads of Diplomatic Missions Spouses Group that was established in March 2018. Ms Ghada Ahmed is the President of this group. Ambassador of Egypt is completing his tenure in Pakistan next month. So this book is an achievement by his wife that will keep their memories fresh in the hearts of Pakistanis for long and their services in enhancing the bilateral as well as multilateral relations will be remembered for many years ahead.

The participants highly appreciated the launch of book and termed it as a present to Pakistan from Ms. Ghada Ahmed and Mr.Ahmed Fadel Yakoub at their farewell.

Ghada Ahmed, while addressing the participants, said that the wives of 50 foreign envoys have shared recipes of their countries in this book.It is hard work of  two years. 144 recipes from 50 countries of six continents. The aim of the book was to introduce Pakistanis to different nations and cultures.Anyone who is interested in food, history and culture will enjoy going through the book.

“I wanted to promote Arabic and Egyptian culture by introducing our cuisines and the stories lie behind the dishes we prepare. It is also a noble cause as all the revenue from the book will go to one or more Pakistani government recognized charity”

Ms Samina Alvi,  spouse of President Arif Alvi said that this is an excellent initiative to introduce culture through cuisines. The revenue from the book’s sales will go to the government’s poverty alleviation Ehsaas program.I would ask Ehsaas to finance from the book’s sales vocational training for women with disabilities.Culinary diplomacy is an important tool that could bring together nations and people from other parts of the world under the same roof. I always appreciate and recommend diplomacy through culinary.

She also drew the attention of the audience to Ehsas Programme that also aims at helping and empowering the needy and the destitute. On my personal level, I am trying to set up a vocational training institute for the disabled persons, she said.

Mr. Aziz Boolani said that the book will not only introduce cuisines of different countries to Pakistani homes but also promote diverse cultures and achieve harmony between them.

The launch of the book was certainly a magnificent event that will enlighten the others as well to do what they can for not only the welfare of the poor sections of the society but enabling the needy women to earn their livelihood by learning how to cook variety of food and dishes.

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