March 22, 2019

Food for Thought

This is mohinga, Burmese fish noodle soup made by my neighbor @cobacooks, similar to Vietnamese pho—quite tasty. The second photo is of baked pineapple she also made.

OK, now that I have the facts out of the way, I need to digress as usual.

I think the name of the country Burma aka Myanmar is a big problem. I think Burmyanmar needs someone who is as PR-savvy as Dalai Lama is for Tibet. I was just reading the Wikipedia entry on this topic and found their Minister of Foreign Affairs saying, “foreigners are free to use either name because there is nothing in the constitution of our country that says that you must use any term in particular.” ???? No, no, no... It’s not about legality or freedom of choice; this is about branding. You cannot promote two different names/brands. Every effort you make to elevate the name would be diluted in half, requiring twice as much effort to have the same impact. They need to learn from the painfully self-conscious and vain Japanese. Yes, you have to be sufficiently neurotic to be good at branding and PR.

Have you ever noticed that, for every Chinese word like Sichuan, there are multiple spellings, like Szechuan and Szechwan? Yes, it’s annoying. Google is smart enough to know they all mean the same but in many other contexts, it’s a big problem. For instance, if you use “Sichuan” in your article, you won’t be able to reach the readers who searched with the other spellings. In other words, you can reach only a third of the potential audience.

On the other hand, have you ever noticed that you don’t come across this problem with Japanese? Japanese words are always consistently spelled. There are no variations for “sushi,” “tempura,” “tonkatsu,” “okonomiyaki,” etc.. That is because the Japanese realized at one point in their history that they needed to anally control the way their language was represented by foreigners in Roman alphabets. So, they standardized it.

If you want your culture to be known by the rest of the world, you can’t be like, “foreigners are free to call us whatever.” You need to tell them what you want!

#mohinga #burmesefood #burma #Myanmar #branding #pr #fishsoup #noodlesoup #ricenoodle #shrimp #pineapple