More about cultural appropriation of cuisine

The Washington Post has an article on cultural appropriation of food (click on screenshot to read it) in which people agonize about whether it’s okay for people of one ethnicity to sell the food of other ethnic groups, or write cookbooks about it. (The title refers to the shutting down of a Portland food cart in which two white women sold burritos from recipes they’d garnered in Mexico. They were faulted for not compensating the Mexican women whose recipes they’d adapted.)

In general I agree with author Tim Carman, who thinks that cultural appropriation of food is okay so long as a modicum of cultural sensitivity is exercised. There’s not much new here, including what Carman see as “The Problem”:

The problem, of course, is not that a white diner falls in love with an immigrant cuisine. It’s that a white person profits from the cuisine or, more troublesome for many, becomes the leading authority on it, rather than a chef born into the culture. I’m thinking specifically about chefs and/or authors such as Rick Bayless (with Mexican cuisine), Andy Ricker (with Thai food) and Fuchsia Dunlop (with Sichuan cooking). Bayless, a James Beard Award winner multiple times over, has faced the question of cultural appropriation so often, he once wondered aloud if it’s a matter of reverse racism.

I don’t even have that much of a problem. Of course white people will profit from appropriating cuisine if they produce something good, and I don’t care if they become the leading authority on it, given that most cookbooks in the U.S. are written in English. We can’t guarantee, for instance, that the leading authority on Szechuan cuisine in America happens to be from Szechuan.  But I do agree that one might ponder the origins of the food while you’re eating it, and that alone might increase cultural sensitivity. It’s hard to hate a group whose food you love.

But it cuts both ways, of course. I cannot say that it’s okay for minority groups to appropriate the food of white people, but not the other way around: that’s too much like saying that only white people can be racist because racism equals prejudice plus power. Nor do I demand that the expert on French food in, say, Hong Kong, be a French person rather than a Chinese person (there’s a fair amount of French food in Hong Kong, and widespread cultural appropriation of food). Who cares, so long as people get what they like to eat? The situation in which serving ethnic food leads to exploitation of a culture is vanishingly rare, and it seems to me that it enriches every culture to adopt the food of others.

One disturbing part of the Post article is this:

One writer has stated, flat out, that “Portland has an appropriation problem,” going on to explain (the boldface emphasis is the writer’s):

Because of Portland’s underlying racism, the people who rightly own these traditions and cultures that exist are already treated poorly. These appropriating businesses are erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.

Someone in the City of Roses has even created a Google doc, listing the white-owned restaurants that have appropriated cuisines outside their own culture. For each entry, the document suggests alternative restaurants owned by people of color. One “Appropriative Business” is Voodoo Doughnut, the small doughnut chain accused of profiting off a religion thought to combine African, Catholic and Native American traditions.

The Google document seems to have vanished, but it sounds pretty ridiculous. And I’ve been to Voodoo Doughnuts in Portland, which makes an awesome bacon/maple donut. Those who practice Voodoo come from several cultures and lands; it’s not an ethnicity but, more or less, a form of quasi-religious woo. I have no problem with the name, but I do have a problem with those Leisure Fascists and Culinary Pecksniffs who spend their time policing places like this.

A maple bacon donut from Voodoo Donuts in The People’s Republic of Portland

 

140 Comments

  1. Mike Anderson
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    Musicians seem have been culturally appropriating each other since the dawn of music, and I’ve never heard a musician (of any culture) complain about it.

    Nevertheless, to show my solidarity with the oppressed peoples of the world, I’m burning all my Beatles albums.

    • George
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Culture is all about appropriation. Can we just accept the fact that we are all African and everything is our common heritage.

      But don’t burn your Beatle albums. Send them to me. I promise that I will burn them for you. Maybe. Probably not.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

        That sitar on “Norwegian Wood” is cultural appropriation simpliciter.

      • chrism
        Posted July 3, 2018 at 5:31 am | Permalink

        I appropriate every time I open my mouth – and not just to ingest, but also in what comes out. My mother tongue is a mixture of staples from Germany, Scandinavia and a good helping of Norman French. Well seasoned with gallic French, garnished with a drizzle of Latin and Greek and the odd nugget of Hindi, Sanskrit, Dutch and Pidgin. Shall I be struck dumb to avoid the sin of linguistic appropriation, or shall I only eat and speak PIE?

    • ladyatheist
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:01 pm | Permalink

      That has been a source of complaints. The biggest one was Paul Simon’s “appropriation” of Ladysmith Black Mombazo. They made money and got exposure they wouldn’t have had without him, but somehow it was wrong in the minds of some people.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

        As I recall that foofaraw, the original complaint regarded Simon’s purported violation of the South African boycott. I think most people eventually came around once they got hip to what was actually goin’ on with Graceland.

      • Kiwi Dave
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

        Two decades or more ago, a colleague from South America expressed revulsion, shuddering visibly, at the mention of Simon and Garfunkel’s rendition of El Condor Pasa, apparently because it was inauthentic.

        Had she shuddered at Andy Williams’ happy-clappy version, I would have agreed. However,not only did I like it, but also it was my introduction (assisted later by the superb sound track of the BBC’s documentary, Flight of the Condor)to Andean music which I now loved. Eventually, I bought a number of CD’s by Andean musicians.

        Probably, in various non-Western cities, there are local bands making a living or just enjoying themselves imitating Western pop music with a mix of Western and local instruments and music styles – Adele’s Rolling in the Deep played on the guzheng (Chinese zither) is a stirring treat for the ears.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

          How about this: The Leningrad Cowboys (who apparently were a Finnish, not Russian) band, with the Red Army Choir who presumably are Russian, doing Knocking on Heaven’s Door:

          http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5pPp3ynFUKw

          Just try to work out whose culture is being appropriated in that performance!

          cr

    • John Black
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:44 pm | Permalink

      Elvis Presley became famous and wealthy by imitating a style of music and hip-gyration already popular among blacks in the 1950s. I wonder if he ever credited the appropriate people from whom he adopted his style? Or shared the spoils with any of them?

      • ladyatheist
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:09 pm | Permalink

        Big Mama Thornton probably got royalties from “Hound Dog” …. oh wait, it was written by Leiber & Stoller!

      • revelator60
        Posted July 3, 2018 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

        Elvis Presley became popular by mixing black and white genres of music (country, pop, blues, gospel, r&b) with a style that was uniquely his own. He was never shy about acknowledging the influence of African American artists (“The colored folks been singing it and playing it just like I’m doin’ now, man, for more years than I know”) and once suggested that Fats Domino was the real king of rock and roll.

        When cultural appropriation is crudely applied, it risks erasing the achievements of individual artists and preaching a “stay in your lane” mode of aesthetics. I also can’t help wondering if the modern obsession with treating culture as a commodity is a sign of how deeply capitalism has sunk into poeple’s brains.

  2. Pierluigi Ballabeni
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:08 pm | Permalink

    Would it be cultural appropriation if it was a white Mexican chef?

    • George
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

      BURN RICK BAYLESS!!!

      For those of you from outside Chicago, if you ever visit the city, go to Topolobampo. Or at least Frontera Grill. If you are just passing through O’Hare, give Xoco a visit.

      http://www.rickbayless.com/restaurants/

      • darrelle
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        Some of the best mass produced salsas I’ve come across in recent years are Frontera Grill salsas. Guess I’m appropriating to the 2nd power.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:41 pm | Permalink

          Meta-appropriation (though I suppose “meta” is an appropriation from the Greeks).

          • darrelle
            Posted July 3, 2018 at 8:14 am | Permalink

            It’s a minefield out there, I tell ya. Even if you sat still doing nothing you’d be appropriating something.

            • Ken Kukec
              Posted July 3, 2018 at 8:30 am | Permalink

              Slothfulness from the sloths.

        • Merilee
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:18 pm | Permalink

          Agreed on their salsas.

  3. DrBrydon
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:10 pm | Permalink

    At the risk of being puny, this strikes me as a tempest in a teapot. I would say that anyone who popularizes a foreign cuisine is adding to the culture, broadening the economy, and helping people from that background. The first thing that happens when a “new” cuisine comes along is that everyone clatters for “authentic” whatever it is. I’ve never seen a Thai restaurant that wasn’t run by Thais.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

      We have a lot of Thai places in Southern California that are run by Cambodians. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

  4. yazikus
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:11 pm | Permalink

    Sigh. I suspect there are both enough diners and restaurants to cater to everyone’s preference (food cooked by a person of that food-culture, and those who don’t care).

    One of the things I looked most forward to when relocating from the rural side of my state to the urban side was the expanded food options. I love trying new cuisines, and I think more options here is better.

    I do think there is a conversation to be had regarding which cuisines are seen as worthy of being expensive, but that might be for another day.

  5. Merilee
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:15 pm | Permalink

    We have a local Thai restaurant run by a Korean-Japanese couple. Who cares⁉️⁉️⁉️
    The more “upgemischt” the better, as long as the food is good.

    At the risk of offending our host, that bacon maple donut does not look appealing, but I’m not really a fan of donuts of any stripe. Bacon and maple syrup, yes!

    • George
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Chicago has a Polish-Korean restaurant, Kimski. No joke. And it is very good – and very hip for those of you from Portland. Pierogi and kimchi. Poles like cabbage, Koreans like dumplings. It works.
      http://kimskichicago.com/

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

        OK, that one I have to try – thanks

      • ladyatheist
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Permalink

        Most of the mixed-ethnicity restaurants I have encountered have been the result of mixed marriages of two disparate chefs.

        • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:05 pm | Permalink

          Some are due to an immigrant chef learning the foods of their adopted country and combining the two cuisines. Sometimes it even happens twice. We used to go to a Chinese Dim Sum restaurant run by Vietnamese of Chinese descent. I say let’s mix it up and not worry about where it came from. That said, most fusion cuisines are a bust. While I applaud the experimentation, success is difficult and infrequent.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:47 pm | Permalink

          Damn fine reason for mixed marriages, you ask me.

      • Rita
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:32 pm | Permalink

        Thanks for mentioning this, I can’t wait to go there!

        • Rita
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:33 pm | Permalink

          My post was meant for George, who mentioned Kimski.

      • Posted July 3, 2018 at 12:33 pm | Permalink

        I’m not much of a fan (out of ignorance, really) of Eastern European foods, but I’d go for that.

        • Posted July 3, 2018 at 12:40 pm | Permalink

          I see they also have poutine! Add another cuisine to their influences!

    • Steve Gerrard
      Posted July 3, 2018 at 1:15 am | Permalink

      I thought the bacon maple donut sounded weird, then I had one. For some inexplicable reason, it works. The sweet maple icing and the smokey bacon just go great together.

      If someone is claiming Voodoo Donuts has something to do with Voodoo, they are just being ridiculous.

  6. Merilee
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:16 pm | Permalink

    We used to have a very popular restaurant in Toronto called Ginzburg and Wong.

    • Jon Gallant
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:19 pm | Permalink

      We must hope that Ginzburg and Wong served exclusively Canadian food. Anything else would have been cultural appropriation.

      • Merilee
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

        Yes, tons of Canadian Jews and Chinese😻

        • Jenny Haniver
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

          I thought it must be a glatt kosher Chinese restaurant. Quite a few of those around, but unless you were a Jew from Kaifeng (not the oxymoron one might think https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Jews_in_China), kosher Chinese must be considered rank culinary appropriation.

          A friend who recently spent time in the UAE sent an email which included this choice description of a restaurant — apropos to the discussion: “Did I send you the pictures of chairs that I took at a Chinese restaurant in Abu Dhabi called “Leviticus “? They bear oleographs on their backs of Christ carrying the cross.” Talk about ecumenism, culinary and religious, Y*WH only knows what dishes they cook up there!

          • Posted July 3, 2018 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

            I had kosher Chinese once. It was blander than usual, though I don’t know why that was. What it *was* for sure was a case of *not* catering to a particular stereotype. I was told that it was ~$9 a bowl for the wonton soup. (At the time that was on the order of $7 more per person.)

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:51 pm | Permalink

          Any guesses which one slaughtered the ducks, and which on kept the books? 🙂

          (Oh, shit, there I go with the stereotypes.)

          • Merilee
            Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

            🤓

          • Jenny Haniver
            Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:13 pm | Permalink

            Well, a mohel’s good for the ducks, and I’m sure they use an abacus.

  7. Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Permalink

    I have zero problem with the ‘cultural appropriation’ of food. It’s frankly a made-up problem. It’s not digging up burial grounds.

    It reminds me of a line from The Cook, The Thief, His Wife and Her Lover: ‘Who cares what he ate? It’s all shit in the end.’

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:54 pm | Permalink

      I dig Greenaway’s movies the most.

    • eric
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:07 pm | Permalink

      I generally agree (with ‘no problem’).

      Direct intellectual property theft (stealing a cook’s unique recipe) is wrong. But when you’re using a commonly available recipe, you’re not preventing anyone else from using the same recipe and out-cooking you.

      The alt-lefties seem to think cooking food (or writing music, or whatever) is some sort of zero sum game: if I cook and sell spaghetti, I deprive some Italian-American in my town of being able to cook it or profit from it. Ridiculous; we can all cook, make music, produce art…and the world is a better place for it. Art, cooking, music, it’s positive sum game.

  8. snake
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I refuse to eat a hamburger unless it’s cooked by a native of Northern Germany, and you should too

  9. Heather Hastie
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    Wouldn’t it be nice if no one had ever appropriated Christianity and Islam from their founding cultures.

    • Linda Calhoun
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:24 pm | Permalink

      LOL!!!!

      L

    • John Black
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:47 pm | Permalink

      Religions are often not appropriated, but rather foisted upon a population by proselytizers and sword-wielders.

      • Heather Hastie
        Posted July 3, 2018 at 10:53 am | Permalink

        Pretty much how Islam spread from the beginning, and Christanity later on.

      • Posted July 3, 2018 at 12:36 pm | Permalink

        But very successful religions (Christianity, Islam, Buddhism and especially Hinduism) let some stuff say or repurpose old things, so they are also cultural appropriators in that sense too.

  10. Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

    The recently departed Anthony Bourdain made the point on one of his shows that the vast majority of the chefs in New York’s better restaurants are Hispanic. Basically they are taking over the jobs that are too physically demanding for our lily-white brethren to do.

    Does that make them Cultural Appropriators? Or just able to learn fast enough to get a decent job?

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

      I agree with your point of ‘reverse cultural appropriation.’

      But trust me, as someone who worked in restaurant kitchens in my youth, I can assure you that plenty of us ‘lily whites’ can handle the physical demands of a kitchen.

  11. Simon Hayward
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I looked, and I have none left to give….

    It doesn’t really matter what you are eating, up to and including high end classic French food, in any large US city the chances are that the guy actually making it will come from somewhere in central America (per Anthony Bourdain). He probably needs the job and isn’t worried about backlash from the French for appropriating their creme brulee.

    My local burrito place is run by a couple of Indian guys with a pretty multi-cultural crew, which always seems a little strange but works out OK, if it’s appropriation so be it-the food is good.

    My (limited) experience of restauranteurs (a step up from food trucks) is that they are good with food and people and the process of entertaining. The style of food is almost incidental and you can find families and companies that run places serving a variety of styles.

    As an aside, and as a shoutout – Revolution Doughnuts (Atlanta and Decatur) do a great maple bacon and are appropriately named to survive 🙂

  12. sang1ee
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:48 pm | Permalink

    I wonder why there isn’t a massive protest against all the fake Japanese restaurants and sushi joints, the majority of which are owned by Chinese chefs in many places? That’s flagrant appropriation.

    • yazikus
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:50 pm | Permalink

      the majority of which are owned by Chinese chefs in many places?

      Were I live, the majority of sushi joints are owned by Koreans.

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

        Ditto

  13. Luis Servin
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:52 pm | Permalink

    As a mexican I don’t have a problem with cultural appropriation of mexican food as long as some sense of authenticity is retained. My problem is when people like Rick Bayless and similar chefs modify recipes significantly, “americanize” tham and then try to pass them as authentic mexican food. These chefs have so much media presence and influence that people end up thinking that what these chefs cook is authentic. I’ve had discussions with non-mexican friends who follow these chefs that try to correct me on the “right” way of cooking mexican food, which is actually wrong. If you like their “americanized” versions of food that’s fine, just don’t call it mexican.

    • George
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      Bayless does not Americanize Mexican food. His is authentic. Chicago is full of great Mexican restaurants. And I don’t just mean taquerias and Tex-Mex food. Straight up Mexican. I frequent Don Juan. Great food.
      http://www.chicagotribune.com/dining/foodfocus/ct-essential-mexican-restaurants-food-0426-20170421-story.html

      • Luis Servin
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:33 pm | Permalink

        I rest my case.

        • George
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:04 pm | Permalink

          On what?

      • John Conoboy
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:05 pm | Permalink

        Bayless mixes a lot of different foods from around Mexico and adds American, French and other influences. I recall watching one of his shows a while back that was a behind the scenes look at his restaurants. He and his staff were sitting around creating recipes and very openly talking about modifying Mexican foods with specifically French influences.

        I have eaten in places around Mexico and eat a lot of New Mexican food, which is mix of Spanish, Mexican, and American Indian influenced food. I do not like the menu at Bayless’s restaurant, personally, but I don’t care what he does. If people like it, that is just fine, but it is not really authentic Mexican. On his TV show however, he often does prepare reasonably authentic foods that he learned about in Mexico. Maybe some of those show up on his menus sometimes.

        For anyone who is interested in the spread of Mexican food in the US, I recommend Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America by Gustavo Arellano.

        The more cultural appropriation in foods the better.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:03 pm | Permalink

      Your concern is what, Luis — that the obtuse will be confused as to what constitutes “authentic Mexican”?

      The obtuse are confused by definition. The cognoscenti will know the difference, and that should be your target audience.

    • Graham
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

      This kind of reworking of recipes has been going on for much longer than those worrying cultural appropriation think, there is a blog called the ‘Old Foodie’ (Currently on Hiatus.) which posted a series of ‘Mexican’ recipes from a 1905 cookbook which shows the process was already well underway by then. One of the three recipes quoted in the post uses Worcestershire sauce mixed with Chili to give the meal a ‘real Mexican’ taste.

      http://www.theoldfoodie.com/2011/05/authentic-mexican.html

  14. Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

    A number of years ago I was fairly well-acquainted with an Indian businessman in my town. He owned the Local KFC and Taco Bell franchises but when he entertained at home (or came to your home) he made the best Indian curry dishes, vindaloo and tandoori. The small town we lived in wouldn’t support an Indian food restaurant, he’d say, so he appropriated American fast food culture. I didn’t realize at the time he was blameworthy. Wouldn’t have mattered, though, the curry was too good.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:18 pm | Permalink

      On a similar note, all the takeaway burger joints in NZ (that aren’t part of a franchise chain, anyway) are now run by Asians. And I have to say they make far better burgers than their white Kiwi predecessors did.

      cr

  15. Laurance
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:57 pm | Permalink

    Other cultures appropriating white people food? As far as I’m concerned, they can appropriate the food I ate back in the 1940’s and ’50’s all they want as long as they don’t give it back!

    Yecchhh! A slab of meat. What’s for dinner?, and what my mother answers is the kind of meat that will be on the plate. There will be a vegetable cooked to death, no texture at all left. There will be a bland white starch of some sort. There will be white stuff laughingly referred to as “bread”. There will be margarine, which in those days was like axle grease. There will be some iceberg lettuce with bottled dressing.

    Bland! Bland! Cooked to pieces. No herbs, no spices. Boring taste! Appropriate all you want and keep it! I don’t want it!

    Hare Krishna! Hare Krishna! I have the Hare Krishna cult to thank for introducing me to Indian food, largely Bengali, They held these Feasts, free food, believing that the way to our hearts was through our stomachs. I never came to believe that the Lord of the Universe is a little blue cowherd in India, but oh good lord! The food! The food! Wonderful spices, glorious flavors! I felt so sorry for the poor Catholics who get a tiny tasteless wafer, while the Krishna devotees get stupendous, sumptuous goodies!

    I’m sorry if I’m being an insensitive white person, but Indian food is just so wonderful!

    • darrelle
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      “Have you ever went over a friends house to eat
      And the food just ain’t no good?
      I mean the macaroni’s soggy, the peas are mushed
      And the chicken tastes like wood”

  16. Jim Smith
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 2:58 pm | Permalink

    Where I live Pizza was taken over from Italians b Greeks and then East Indians.

    Sushi is done by Chinese.

    All of this genocide going on around me and I don’t care.

    I am a monster.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:52 pm | Permalink

      Here in Los Angeles, a ridiculous number of sushi places are run by Koreans. Since we also have ones run by Japanese, we tend to favor those. We have nothing against the Koreans (certainly not their cultural appropriation) but the Japanese ones are generally superior.

  17. CJColucci
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:03 pm | Permalink

    I’m trying to decide whether I’m more annoyed by people whining about cultural appropriation or by people whining about people whining about cultural appropriation.

  18. Stanislaw Pak
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Permalink

    I find quite outrageous the equivocation of Mexicans with the biological race. It is similarly absurd as doing the same and claim that Americans are white race. Does that sound racist?

    • Eric Grobler
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:19 pm | Permalink

      As Sarkeesian a true modern leftist claimed:
      “everything is sexist, everything is racist”

      • Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:02 pm | Permalink

        That’s those darned Armenians for ya!

  19. Harvey
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:20 pm | Permalink

    Was Julia Child French?

    • Simon Hayward
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

      Born McWilliams, did she have a haggis recipe?

    • Gabrielle
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:04 pm | Permalink

      No, she was not French; she was originally from California, IIRC. However, she and her husband lived in France for a number of years, where she attended cooking school. She wrote her first cookbook with two French women who were accomplished cooks.

  20. Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:22 pm | Permalink

    With Trump as President, this issue seems petty, an excuse for racists (it goes both ways, you know) to vent their frustration. Demonize as you probably will, but I have zero sympathy with the complainers.

  21. Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:24 pm | Permalink

    If you think the Paddies are going to send their spuds back to Peru – apart from it being like sending llamas to Lima – it ain’t going to happen.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:13 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for the two new variations on “coals to Newcastle,” Dermot. 🙂

      • Simon Hayward
        Posted July 3, 2018 at 7:43 am | Permalink

        If you want an ancient world alternative it’s: “bring owls to Athens”

  22. Steve Pollard
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:32 pm | Permalink

    FFS. I am English. My son is a chef. He has just landed a great job in Paris as sous-chef in the restaurant of a boutique hotel where the menu is largely classic/modern French with added touches from other traditions. And the head chef is Canadian. So who’s culturally appropriating what? And who cares? Certainly not the diners.

    FFS.

  23. Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

    A couple of years ago I stayed in a part of London in which a lot of Polish people live. Once when getting an espresso and being served by a nice Polish-English lady, we asked about the restaurant across the street that advertised Polish/Chinese food. She laughed. Even she thought that was strange but I doubt it was because of cultural appropriation.

  24. Erwin Kloeck
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:46 pm | Permalink

    I think the concept of cultural appropriation is stupid. It is tantamount to forbidding learning from others in my mind. That said, I need a very good reason to try a pizza that is sold at an Indian restaurant (I am in Germany). The same is even true for the Indian food at a place like that.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:48 pm | Permalink

      Yes, some things just don’t sound good. On the other hand, Indians are excellent at breads in the oven so perhaps it is good.

  25. Curt Nelson
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    People who make the cultural appropriation of food an issue should get on the life boats last.

  26. Christopher
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Permalink

    Cultural appropriation is for idiots for have no knowledge of history or anthropology.

  27. BJ
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    It sounds like being a white restaurant owner in Portland suck big time. Portland seems to be the City of the Offended.

    • BJ
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

      Hell, you probably don’t even want to be a white employee in a food business in that city: http://abcstlouis.com/news/nation-world/oregon-bakery-fires-employees-for-denying-black-woman-service-after-closing

      “Two employees of a bakery in Portland, Oregon were fired earlier this month for denying a black woman service because the business had closed.”

      “Two other white women who went to the bakery two minutes before ‘Lillian’, and were also informed that the business was closed for the night.”

      “The bakery’s statement says that even though it does not consider the employees to be racist and that they were following the business’s protocol of closing at 9 p.m., they were fired because ‘sometimes impact outweighs intent.’ The bakery also says in the statement that the way the employees went about denying the woman service, ‘lacked sensitivity and understanding of the racial implications at work.’

      “In the statement ‘Back To Eden’ says the employees were fired because the woman and the ‘clamoring public’ demanded they be fired.”

      • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

        Portland has evidently jumped the shark as a desirable city. I hear it is good for bicyclists though. Too bad about the rest.

  28. rickflick
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:14 pm | Permalink

    It’s nice to discover interesting words. Often I find that the definition contains words I have to look up as well – as here…quodlibetical.

  29. Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:17 pm | Permalink

    Reblogged this on The Logical Place.

  30. Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:23 pm | Permalink

    ” Because of Portland’s underlying racism, the people who rightly own these traditions and cultures that exist are already treated poorly. These appropriating businesses are erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.”

    Oregon, like most other U.S. states, has a long, terrible history of racism. But, compared to other metropolitan cities I’ve lived in or near, Portland is currently much less racist. The greater emphasis is on letting people be whatever they are without enforcing your stereotypes on them. “Keep Portland Weird”: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keep_Portland_Weird.

    In regards to food, whether from restaurants or food carts, Portland is highly acclaimed for the quality of the food served here. I seriously doubt that whoever wrote the article referencing “Portland’s underlying racism” bothered to research the huge number of food carts and restaurants owned by so-called non-whites who serve their own cuisines.

    Racial groups who want to make money off their own cuisines, do so by establishing their own food carts or restaurants. If the food is good, they’ll remain in business. If not, not. I have had superb Mexican food cooked in Mexico and the U.S. by people of Mexican and non-Mexican origin. Some of the worst Mexican cooking I’ve had: ditto.

    The quality and flavor of the cooking is not a racial attribute. I will go where the food
    tastes good to me, whether cooked by Mexican chefs in Chinese restaurants or Chinese chefs in Chinese restaurants. Try Kwan’s in Salem, OR for the latter.

  31. Adam M.
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:54 pm | Permalink

    According to the Mexicans I know, burritos are not a Mexican food. It’s an American food.

    So the real question is, should Mexicans be allowed to make burritos in restaurant kitchens?

    • darrelle
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

      I’m skeptical about that. Either way the best burritos I’ve ever had were at a little 100% Mexican owned and operated joint in Ventura back in the ’80s. My favorites were beef cheeks and their breakfast burrito with their house made chorizo. Only problem with the breakfast burritos, besides being unreasonably good, was that they were about 1.5 pounds. Appropriate away I say. I won’t tell anyone.

      • Adam M.
        Posted July 3, 2018 at 11:21 am | Permalink

        Oh I believe it, but try getting a burrito deep in Mexico (i.e. outside a tourist destination). 🙂

        • Posted July 3, 2018 at 6:55 pm | Permalink

          Cuisine in Mexico is regional like cuisine is in the U.S. If you want the “real deal” you’re more likely to find it in certain places and not others (or in “bastardized” versions.) Mole is not common in all parts of Mexico. Nor, Sopitos or Huaraches. Posole is not standardized, nor is Birria. Mexican breads based on French breads are excellent.
          Appropriation is not one-sided. Does anyone truly expect a uniform cuisine throughout the entirety of France, or Greece, or England, etc.?

  32. Ken Kukec
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:55 pm | Permalink

    … there’s a fair amount of French food in Hong Kong

    Not to mention in Vietnam (the former French Indochina). If I’m not mistaken, Ho Chi Minh was at one time Auguste Escoffier’s pastry chef (and was known, even in his later years, for baking a mean brioche).

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:17 pm | Permalink

      The cultural appropriation police could not have chosen a worse area to focus on than food. Every culture appropriates foods from elsewhere and no dishes seem to stick in one culture forever. For example, the English used to bake little birds into a pie! Where the hell did they get that one?

    • John Conoboy
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:09 pm | Permalink

      Reminds me of the restaurant I ate in in Quito, Ecuador called Uncle Ho’s. It had pictures of Ho Chi Minh on the wall, served Ecuadorian food, and was owned by Irish ex-pats.

      • Ken Kukec
        Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:17 pm | Permalink

        They oughta open a chain.

        • Merilee
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

          And an offshoot could be Uncle’s Ho.

          • darrelle
            Posted July 3, 2018 at 8:22 am | Permalink

            Took me a second to get that. Must slow down.

  33. Harrison
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 4:59 pm | Permalink

    “They were faulted for not compensating the Mexican women whose recipes they’d adapted.)”

    Last I checked nobody got royalties for recipes. Thankfully food is still in the public domain.

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

      Recipes can be protected by copyright but it’s still pretty easy to adapt one without worrying about a lawsuit.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 7:48 pm | Permalink

      Recipes ought to be considered casting one’s bread upon the water. (That’s day-old bread plus H2O to taste, if a recipe is needed.)

  34. darrelle
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:13 pm | Permalink

    A month or so ago I came upon a serious cultural appropriation issue during a weekend trip to Miami. For lunch one day I ordered a pork belly bahn mi from a little place, run buy a polite Hispanic (shit, I hope that term hasn’t become politically incorrect) young man, in a food court in the Wynwood Art District. The sandwich looked beautiful. The bread was nothing short of outstanding, and the greens, pickled veggies and all the rest of the fixings as well. But, oh my god, the pork belly was inedible. It was nearly impossible to bite a piece off and you could have chewed it for hours.

    Now, I almost never complain about food at a restaurant but this sandwich was the best bahn mi I’ve ever had, except for the pork belly which was the worst I’ve ever had. So I convinced myself to, not complain, but just offer constructive criticism to the owner. I started by telling him that I wasn’t after a refund or free food or anything then I told him just what I wrote above, best I’ve had, except the completely inedible pork belly. So he proceeds to tell me how perfectly they cook their meats, bringing them to perfect temperature with an expensive commercial sous-vide machine, which he proudly showed me, and then sear it quickly on a grill for added flavor and texture. OMFG! Anybody familiar with pork belly would know right off that sous-vide is entirely inappropriate for cooking pork belly! The pork belly was inedible because it was raw!

    Just a little disclaimer, the cultural appropriation part was just a little joke. But this really happened!

    • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:24 pm | Permalink

      I just love it when a restaurant owner responds to my complaint by explaining how I am wrong. I just get on Yelp and fire away with both barrels. Sometimes it is so satisfying that it comes close to making the bad meal worthwhile.

      • Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:51 pm | Permalink

        In Saumur on the bank of the Loire 20 or so years ago, my wife and I were near the end of a pleasant meal at the bijou café-restaurant. A late middle-aged English chap with the air of an old Etonian cricket commentator without the charm and civility began to complain to the young waitress. In French uninflected by any attempt at accurate pronunciation rather like the mangling with which Edward Heath used to wring out of the language of Baudelaire, he proclaimed that he would not pay the bill as he had ordered pork rather than chicken.

        His wife sat mortified at her husband’s self-possession, perhaps noticing as the rest of the diners could that he had eaten all his food. The waitress explained that she would get the chef, who evidently was the owner. Chef arrived, a burly man, dressed in white chef’s uniform, a wobbly chef’s hat atop, a plate of piled uncooked meats in one hand and a shining and sharp meat cleaver in the other. He presented the plate under the old Etonian’s nose and pointed.

        “This here is pork, this is chicken,” Chef assertively explained, “You ordered pork and I cooked it for you. Now you can pay the bill.” The old Etonian, like some pompous pater familias from an unfunny 80s BBC sitcom, refused. Chef threatened to call the police. At this point, the atmosphere in the small dining-room was less than conducive to the romantic meal by the Loire that my wife and I had envisaged. We quickly left.

        The next morning we returned to the café and the same waitress was behind the bar. “What happened with the English bloke last night?” I asked. She replied, “He refused to pay the bill. The police came and took him away. I think he probably spent the night in a cell.” “Oh, two citrons pressés, please.”

        Never insult a chef who is carrying a meat cleaver.

        • Posted July 2, 2018 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

          Good story! That’s why I usually wait until I’m safe at home before complaining. Still, it is dumb to complain about food and refuse to pay AFTER you’ve eaten it. What a rube!

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:01 pm | Permalink

          “In French uninflected by any attempt at accurate pronunciation rather like the mangling with which Edward Heath used to wring out of the language of Baudelaire …”

          My all-time favorite opening line of a novel ever may be PG Wodehouse’s from The Luck of the Bodkins:

          “Into the face of the young man who sat on the terrace of the Hotel Magnifique at Cannes there had crept a look of furtive shame, the shifty, hangdog look which announces that an Englishman is about to talk French.”

          🙂

          • Merilee
            Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

            ‼️

          • Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

            That is funny, Ken.

            I remember the café in the Gare de Lyon in Paris, on my way to Grenoble. I was 20, young, handsome, alone on the continent for the first time and thrilled at the thought of spending a year in that lovely town as my year out on a French degree. The waiter approached. I thought that I would confidently put on my best French accent. I changed the shape of my jaw, altered the configuration of my tongue in the mouth: I may even have body-languaged a Gallic shrug. “Monsieur, un café au lait, s’il vous plaît.” “Zank you very murch,” he replied.

            I did not get the impression that he was being inclusive, as we say nowadays. Conforming to the stereotype, he appeared to be asserting his superiority and faint irritation at whatever minor consonantal infelicity had betrayed my English accent.

            • yazikus
              Posted July 2, 2018 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

              I had years of French study, across multiple continents. Strangely, though, most of my instructors were British. I remember going to France, Biarritz, and taking my language skills for a spin. I was quickly informed that I speak French with a British accent (though I’m a yank myself). I’ve never quite been able to drop it.

              • Posted July 5, 2018 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

                Better a British accented French than what I had. As a freshman in college, my French teacher was an asthmatic male Kansan. I’ve forgotten most of what he taught.

                But, in high school, I was taught a very literary, cultured Spanish by a member of one of the Land Grant families in California. We spoke only Spanish in class, read “Don Quijote” and other works in Spanish, sang songs, read poems, etc. An altogether different experience of language teaching.

            • Steve Pollard
              Posted July 3, 2018 at 5:13 am | Permalink

              I used to be good friends with a fellow Civil Servant whose father was English and mother French, and who had been brought up bilingual. He once told me that when he was on a course at ENA, in Paris, a Parisian student told him, in the manner that Parisians have: “Vous parlez français très bien, mais avec un léger accent belge”.

  35. rom
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 5:48 pm | Permalink

    I am reminded of my local fish and chip shops growing up in B’ham. The ethnicities of the proprietors came in waves, Italian, Greek, sub-continental. Now there is a hint of the orient.

    C’est la vie.

  36. Gabrielle
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 8:22 pm | Permalink

    I live in Northern Virginia, where there’s a bagel bakery/restaurant that is run by Koreans. They serve both Korean food and bagels that are surprisingly good. Even being Jewish, I don’t mind this cultural mishmash, since bagels are originally an Eastern European item.

    In the same vein – there is a Middle Eastern bakery/gourmet food shop near where I live; I believe the owners are from Lebanon. Along with all the Middle Eastern baked goods (baklava, mahmool, kataife, etc), they also bake hamentashen, which is a Jewish pastry that is associated with the Jewish holiday Purim. I have to say, nothing says ‘Yiddishkeit’ quite like a young woman in hijab getting me three apricot and three poppyseed hamantashen. If only they were kosher!

  37. Posted July 2, 2018 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

    I’ve yet to hear an SJW provide an useful definition of what it means to ‘erase’ someone.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

      Al Capone could!

      (Trigger warning: Italian stereotype!)

      cr

    • Posted July 3, 2018 at 7:13 am | Permalink

      Whenever I see this term, I think of those old WB cartoons when the animator would erase the characters as they were speaking.

      • CJColucci
        Posted July 3, 2018 at 11:08 am | Permalink

        You’re deth-pic-able!

  38. loren russell
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    I just fixed Flo a hot-pot shrimp soup for dinner. I’m having some of my kimchee with a Belgian-style microbrew. Yesterday we had our first falafels of the summer, with dill-yogurt dip. This morning I picked the last batch of new grape leaves for dolmas — hope to get them going tomorrow. On the horizon, I can get fresh corn now, so I can plan the first of many batches of chicken or pork tamales.

    Did I mention that I’m Welsh + Frisian Dutch? Aside from a bottomless supply of canned French-cut string beans with allspice, I never encountered a spice before college.

    • darrelle
      Posted July 3, 2018 at 8:24 am | Permalink

      You are so screwed. Straight to hell you are going.

  39. infiniteimprobabilit
    Posted July 2, 2018 at 10:50 pm | Permalink

    FFS!

    Who gives a toss where a recipe came from?

    That maple bacon doughnut looks bloody delicious, Voodoo or not.

    I get my burgers and fish’n’chips from our local takeaway which is run by South-East Asians (I can’t locate them more accurately than that), so totally culturally appropriated (or is that appropriation in reverse?). They’re excellent, by the way.

    cr

  40. JonLynnHarvey
    Posted July 3, 2018 at 12:22 am | Permalink

    What will they make of Tex-Mex cuisine?

  41. Posted July 3, 2018 at 2:58 am | Permalink

    If this is really all that people have to worry about in their lives, I’m so happy for them

  42. Posted July 3, 2018 at 5:07 am | Permalink

    Hong Kong doesn’t appropriate enough Mexican food, imo.

  43. Hempenstein
    Posted July 3, 2018 at 6:56 am | Permalink

    Didn’t pasta come from Asia?

    • darrelle
      Posted July 3, 2018 at 8:25 am | Permalink

      Are you trying to start a war?

      • Merilee
        Posted July 3, 2018 at 8:32 am | Permalink

        Not to mention the tomatoes from the New World…

        • Posted July 3, 2018 at 12:43 pm | Permalink

          I had a highschool classmate who insisted that his family’s tomato spaghetti sauce dated from the 13th century.

          • Merilee
            Posted July 3, 2018 at 12:54 pm | Permalink

            Classmate was Italian, I presume?

            • Posted July 4, 2018 at 11:39 am | Permalink

              Yes. I was tempted to ask how the Incas made pasta.

  44. Posted July 3, 2018 at 7:12 am | Permalink

    The basics of computing and digital technology were worked out mainly by whites.

    Therefore, non-whites cannot profit from or be experts in computers or digital technology.

    Man, that sounds stupid. Why is it less stupid to some if we switch the first sentence to non-whites and the second to whites?

  45. Posted July 3, 2018 at 7:26 am | Permalink

    “Someone in the City of Roses has even created a Google doc, listing the white-owned restaurants that have appropriated cuisines outside their own culture.”

    So what is “white culture” with regard to food? My challenge to the cultural police would be to come up with a list of acceptable white culture foods so that we are no longer confused about our boundaries.

    In fact, that would be a good idea to test whether the pecksniffs even have a coherent concept behind their complaints. The inability to produce such an objective list would show that the charge of “cultural appropriation” is mainly a tool for virtue signaling and/or a crude club to bludgeon others.

    “The Official List of Acceptable White People Food”. Must include the rules for inclusion/exclusion.

    Maybe an idea for a contest Jerry?

  46. Posted July 3, 2018 at 12:47 pm | Permalink

    I ate for lunch as I read the first part of this today a surimi curry on chow mein. It was a “caribbean” curry (store bought with added soy sauce, ginger and extra coconut milk. Also went in was some tomato, arugula, some Iranian-style jalapenos.

    For desert I had “table grapes” and a banana loaf slice.

    I mention this all as an example of creating new out of old …

    • Posted July 4, 2018 at 11:41 am | Permalink

      Oh, I forgot the “mini cucumbers” (also in the curry), which I think are a Canadian variety.

  47. Gareth
    Posted July 3, 2018 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

    AFAIK, Fuchsia Dunlop actually trained in chef schools in China, and can occasionally be found in various UK papers correcting misconceptions about Chinese food. I guess you just can’t do enough.

  48. Posted July 12, 2018 at 9:13 am | Permalink

    Such moronities contribute to Trumps getting elected.


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