SILPAKORN UNIVERSITY JOURNAL OF SOCIAL SCIENCES, HUMANITIES, AND ARTS, Vol 15, No 3 (2015)

Local Food Wisdom: The Management for Tourism in the Eastern Region of Thailand

Sorach Wisootthipaet




Abstract


The local food wisdom of the eastern region has a unique identity and is beneficial to the management for tourism promotion, yet is, currently, limitedly used. This research aimed to (1) study the history and development of the local food wisdom of the eastern region, (2) study the current situation and problems that affect the local food wisdom management for tourism promotion in the eastern region, and (3) study the local food wisdom management for tourism promotion in the eastern region; Rayong, Chantaburi, and Trad province. A quality research approach was applied in this study with these research tools: interview and observation guides, focus group discussion, and workshops. Data
were collected by documentary and field research approaches, from 21 key informants, 30 causal informants, and 36 general informants. The
triangulation method was applied to investigate the information gathered in order to analyze it to achieve the research goals. Descriptive analyze was used to present this study’s result. The research results indicate that (1)The origin of the local food wisdom of the eastern region was generated from the habitation and utilization of the abundant natural resources of Chong, Chinese, and Vietnamese, including Indian and other groups living in the region, and from the intertwined ways of life which brought about cultural exchanges. These circumstances brought forth the characteristics of unique local foods with particular materials and spices and unique cooking techniques.
The development of the local food wisdom of the eastern region is the consequence of economic and political development that caused changes to the people’s lifestyles, an increase in price of ingredients, and a decrease in the availability of several ingredients. Nevertheless, the customs and use of local food materials in the eastern region; Rayong, Chantaburi, and Trad province has been adapted in a similar fashion to develop the unique characteristics: sitting round the food set and eating together, cooking strong and harmonious flavoured foods, spicy taste with seasonings and spices, and usually with the addition
of sugar to meat dishes to harmonize the taste. Popular local dishes include pork curry with Chamuang (Garcinia Cowa) leaves, stir fried rice noodles with crabmeat, Liang noodles (noodle with herbal soup with Rew or Tavoy cardamom), crab chili paste, etc. (2) Regarding the current situation and problems that affect the local food wisdom management for tourism promotion in the eastern region, local people continue applying local food wisdom, but likely less as the result of changes to lifestyle, and the decrease of knowhow and use of local food wisdom in local areas. As for the local food wisdom management in the eastern region, it was found that local food wisdom was applied in only a limited way for many reasons: food material availability was seasonal; the local foods had a unique flavour of local spices and herbs; local foods were not offered to tourists; packaging was not appropriate; and tourists demand prioritized seafood. (3) To operate the local food wisdom management, the following practices should be adopted: all relevant sectors must share a mutual understanding for local food producers to make local foods with the unique identity available to tourists; the knowledge of food production processes should be passed on; the food producers must develop their production capabilities; relevant organisations must support and empower the local food producers in every way; and provincial local administrations must promote the conservation of local food materials to ensure their sustainability. The local food wisdom management in the eastern region should be operated under management principles with guideline planning for local food use in tourism promotion, such as making food lists and package developing plans, as well as establishing an organisation or unit to facilitate a systematic approach. Guiding from the government sector and organisational leaders are vital for determining a proper approach to
presenting local foods and monitoring the working process and consumer feedback. In conclusion, the local food wisdom in the eastern region accumulated over generations includes food products using particular materials and distinctive cooking techniques. This local food wisdom should be supported and promoted to be applied sustainably by locals and non-locals such as tourists. The relevant public and private units must be aware of the importance of the local food wisdom and maintain them for the benefit of local people and as added value for tourism today and in the future.

Keywords: Local food wisdom; Management; Tourism

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