Public figure Irina Klimkina — how national cuisine can be one of the conditions for a “breakthrough development” of the country
In his message to the Federal Assembly, the President called for the development of regional tourism and for increasing Russia’s attractiveness for foreign travelers. Gastro-tourism can be a driving force behind the development of this area. Beshbarmak from Bashkiria, the Don ukha from the Chernozem region or jadlibja (chicken in soured cream sauce) from Kabardino-Balkaria deserve to announce them to the world.
The option of studying the country “through the stomach” is far from the most controversial. Without the cuisine of Italy, France, Greece, we would perceive these states absolutely differently. In France, the state project “Gastronomic Cities” has even been launched, and in Indonesia a tripartite concept has been developed, where three common centers for travelers are highlighted: food, culture and history.
The World Tourism Organization under the auspices of the United Nations (UNWTO) singled out gastrotourism as a separate area in 2015. According to UNWTO, 88% of industry professionals believe that the development of local gastronomy allows the country to become a tourist brand, where the regional specialty — the local product — becomes the basis. 40% of travelers consider acquaintance with national cuisine as the main motive of the trip and are ready to spend more than a quarter of their exit budget on this.
Now the most famous Russian dishes for foreigners — borscht, vodka and caviar, showed our research. This is a cliche. It seems to me important to convey information about the size, quality and exclusivity of the hospitable «Russian table», to make it a global socio-cultural trend. That is why our task is to conduct a search and study of regional specialties — dishes characteristic of a certain territory in its historical development, which have already become “national”. And we consider it possible to offer a list of such gastrobrends to be considered by UNESCO for inclusion in the List of Masterpieces of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
I was always inspired to study the values of our national cuisine by its diversity and at the same time authenticity, the belonging of specific dishes to ethnic groups, territories, and cultural traditions. For our Motherland, a dish of a specific location is a distinctive sign of the area, like natural landscapes. And it always seemed to me frank injustice that people know little about the historically and gastronomically invaluable recipes of a region or ethnic group in their own country and almost nothing abroad.
In addition, with the modern development of transport infrastructure and reconstruction, the opening of new Russian airports, gastronomic routes are becoming more accessible, accumulating with other tourist interests. They can also become an influential direction of ecotourism (including protected areas with their own specialties of the area), which is popular all over the world today.
Gastro-tourism in world experience is an example of a sustainable integration of national and regional economies, a cultural and commercial driver. It assumes close ties with farmers and eco-farms; visits to restaurants, authentic establishments of various profiles, festivals and fairs; participation in tastings and master classes. All these formations exclude seasonality, the risks of races only, for example, «summer» tourists, because in the winter the best dishes will be prepared for you.
The “edible property” of our country deserves the sectoral status in the homeland, the widest sample in the world and absolute historical recognition. Gastronomic diplomacy is not just words, it is a real tool for bringing countries and peoples closer together.
The author is the chairman of the board of the Association of Cultural-Gastronomic Tourism of Russia.