Exploring Vietnamese Ethnic Cuisine with Heads of Mission Families

The engagement serves as a powerful reminder of the importance of cultural exchange, cuisine, and sustainable development.


Under the support of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Spouses of Heads of Mission (SHOM) had the opportunity to explore the diverse cuisine of Vietnam’s rural and ethnic minority communities at a conference.

Spouses of Heads of Missions enjoying the food and drink of Vietnamese ethnic minorities. Photos: IFAD

The conference took place at the French Hospital in Hanoi and provided SHOM members a unique opportunity to engage with these communities through their culinary traditions.

SHOM, a network that fosters connection and cultural exchange among the expatriate diplomatic community, organized an immersive experience that went beyond just food tasting. Participants gained insights into the nutritional value and cultural significance of each recipe, promoting understanding and appreciation for the communities from which these recipes originated.

A highlight of the workshop was the launch of “Vietnamese Recipes and Stories from Ethnic Families,” an extraordinary cookbook showcasing the culinary heritage of Vietnam’s ethnic minorities.

This publication by IFAD serves as a valuable resource for preserving traditions, promoting cultural understanding, and raising awareness about the significance of sustainable food systems.

“The spouses of heads of mission play a vital role in fostering cultural exchange,” said Willem Aumann, spouse of IFAD’s Country Director in Vietnam. “We are honored to collaborate with SHOM and launch this exceptional cookbook, which makes a valuable contribution to the understanding of Vietnam’s diverse culinary landscape,” she stated.

Spouses of Heads of Missions helping to promote Vietnamese cuisine.

In addition to cultural immersion, the workshop covered significant topics such as nutrition and sustainable rural development. SHOM members actively participated in discussions on how to incorporate traditional practices into modern food systems to create a more sustainable and healthy future.

“This event provided a valuable platform to explore the history of Vietnamese nutrition and delve into the culinary wisdom of ethnic minorities,” said Prof. Dr. Ho Thu Mai, a nutrition specialist at the French Hospital Hanoi. “By rediscovering these traditions, we can contribute to promoting healthy eating habits for all.”

Sharing the same view, Ilaria Firmian, IFAD’s expert on ethnic minorities, highlighted the importance of these communities’ food systems in preserving biodiversity and combating malnutrition. “By incorporating these practices into today’s world, we can create a more sustainable and nutritious future for everyone,” she said.

The workshop served as a powerful reminder of the importance of cultural exchange, sustainable development, and the universal language of food.

IFAD, during its 30 years of operation in Vietnam, has helped transform the lives of Vietnam’s rural communities.