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Culinary delights from the world of diplomacy | Dávid Harangozó

Culinary delights from the world of diplomacy

Hungary’s consul general in Los Angeles Balázs Bokor, has published his latest book about culinary delights and dinners in the world of diplomacy. What is an official diplomat dinner like? Find out from our article!

You may have seen in several movies that many times, one’s last will is just to eat his or her favorite dish. We all know that feeling contented influences the state of our mind, the way we feel.
Is good food that much important? Many times, you do not even think about the fact that eating is not only for self-sustenance but for feeling good and balanced, as well. Of course, we can approach the matter as an automatic thing. Although, this way something very important lacks from our life: the enjoyment of culinary delights and gastronomic pleasure.

“The ceremony of eating is important in diplomacy, too.” That is how Balázs Bokor began his speech on his second book presentation this February in Budapest. “During my nearly three-decade-long carrier as a diplomat, I have participated in many events that were built around gastronomy. Official receptions, lunches, dinners and breakfasts also served as a suitable environment for negotiating as it could come to an appropriate end at those occasions. These dining moments, sometimes while having the desserts, could also bring successful outcome. This is what the book ‘Diplomáciai csalétkek’ (‘Culinary baits in diplomacy’) is about.”

The reader gets a taste of a uniquely special world, which is usually hidden from the eyes of the public – almost literally. The author, considering his original profession, is not only a proficient head of protocol but also, a high-ranking diplomat of Hungary. He tells many stories of a closed community through the chapters of the book. These stories happened at different white tables and have never been told before, have never revealed for the public.

“In this book, I wrote down 40 stories of diplomatic events that were organized between 1980 and 2008. Prominent people gave a reception to each other every time and I was also there,” Bokor continued the introduction. “I also published the menu card, so that the readers can see how creative the protocol and the diplomacy are. As the apropos of the event, I always recall a story that happened at that particular event. Since this book is not a cook book, I put a recipe next to the menu card only at a few times.

“Sometimes, as a joke, we say that the diplomat serves with his stomach and liver, too. In order to create good and usable relations, a diplomat should actively take part in many gastronomic events. This can be tiresome too but one should never deny that it is also a good experience” said Bokor and added that “the special atmosphere of the diplomat dining events as well as their unique choreography, the flavors and the serving has always interested me much.”

During the book review, under-secretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Vilmos Szabó and chef and gastronomist Matisa Carlo sat at the side of Balazs Bokor. They complimented the book and asked the author about his diplomatic adventures.
Carlo Matisa stressed that “I very much appreciate the concise, almost intimate description of the events because it is not self-praised, and the story is acceptable for each participant. Meanwhile, we get an overall picture about the past decades, how the patterns of the protocol changed and how the heads of state respect each other.” He continued with a brief general perspective. “The two heads of protocol – the invited county’s and the inviting country’s – work closely together and cooperate in composing the courses and drinks. Although, the preparations seem to be light and festive, it is careful and meticulous work. They have to choose the appropriate menu according to the folk, religious, health, lifestyle habits and traditions of the participating diplomats.

In reality, the intimate stories presented in a pleasing manner are not of ‘tabloid genre’, the intimate situations are presented delicately and tactfully. These diplomatic and culinary experiences are not inconvenient to any of the participants. Gala lunches, receptions and gala dinners described in the book are not interesting because of what the political dignitaries dined at an event but because we get to understand how important the ceremony of dining is in the world of diplomacy.

The book can be purchased at
Közlöny Könyvesház 1072 Bp., Rákóczi út 30.
Magyar Közlöny Lap- és Könykiadó boltja: 1085 Bp., Somogyi B. u. 6.

Dorottya Vannai

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