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"Food is not only culture, it's diplomacy" Leah Selim, TedTalks


Instead of reading an essay for this assignment, you will watch a TedTalk video: "Food is not only culture, it's diplomacy," by Leah Selim. Selim's TedTalks profile tells us that she is a co-founder of Global Kitchen, "a social enterprise that hosts immigrant-led cooking classes to promote cultural exchange and awareness through food." Selim received a Master's in Food Systems at NYU, where she studied the connection between food, identity, environment, and politics.


  • To practice finding the main idea and responding to key ideas in a (video) text. 
  • To build schema (ideas, knowledge) for writing on the topic of home, tradition, and family.

Listen carefully to Selim's lecture and take notes. Listen for Selim's main ideas. What does she want the audience to learn from her story? How does she show the significance of her own experience in a larger context? 

"It is through cooking that we get to know each other." —Leah Selim


Discussion Post Directions

Answer each of the following questions in short, focused paragraphs, then respond to the posts on this topic of 2 classmates.

  1. According to Selim, what are the 4 stages of food relationships that people go through when adjusting to a new culture? Which of these 4 stages have you experienced when traveling, tasting dishes from another country here in the United States, or, if your family comes from outside the US, adjusting to American culture? Discuss your experience.

  2. What kinds of food traditions do you hold on to and how do these traditions contribute to your sense of identity?

Go to discussion forum