When walking around your local area, have you noticed a few more restaurants opening, especially for a specific cuisine? Maybe a few more Thai restaurants in one part of Sutton and two more Korean restaurants in New Malden? Now what if this is entirely intentional.

As we see more and more of these foods in our areas, a country’s identity strengthens in our views. Especially when it’s in the name. The beloved Pad Thai is one of the best examples of this. Rice shortages in the 1930s led to the government creating this dish; trying to encourage more people to eat noodles. 70 years later, in 2002, the dish became the national dish of the country, spearheading an initiative proposed by the government to increase their global influence. Loans were given to Thai nationals to open restaurants abroad and meetings were set up between foreign businesspeople to help Thailand expand its influence on the global stage. The plan was a resounding success as the number of Thai restaurants outside of Thailand went from 5000 in 2002 to over 15000 by 2018.

Other countries have since followed suit – one that is very prevalent in our local area is South Korean cuisine. In the area of New Malden, there as been a great rise in the availability of quality South Korean food and is a great way for South Londoners to easily experience a new culture. From chilled desserts like Bing-Su and the now-staple, Korean BBQ, we can expect to see another country’s politics benefit from its cuisine.