Have you culturally appropriated any food today?

I think this 'culturally appropriation' thing as it applies to food is a trap to make people look silly.
It's silly and using it makes you look silly. Well, unless you don't eat fried chicken, tacos, fried okra, black eyed peas and collards, and sushi, or vegan lasagna. The beauty of food and soul of food is about crossing cultures.

  • Posted by: Sam1148
  • February 4, 2017


Tommy C. October 21, 2019
Cultural appropriation does not exist.
Lainie February 7, 2017
OH NO! Now we are talking micro-aggressions.

Where is my safe place when I need it?
E February 7, 2017
If your reaction to a legitimate concern many underrepresented and marginalized groups have is "oh nooOOooo where is my safe space now," but you still cook the cuisine of those people, then you are committing a micro-aggression.
MMH February 6, 2017
When my daughter was 3 she told me she wanted to eat food from every continent and we've been exploring geography, culture, politics and food for 13 years.
Sam1148 February 6, 2017
America has always appropriated foods and incorporated them and embraced them and taken them out of the 'China/Greek/Japan' town of a large city and into a stripmall near you.
And when a new food comes on the scene...yeah. Sometimes you'll hear the rabble making fun of it.

In the 80's. people heard "I don't eat bait" but that was never directed toward the Japanese people or culture, the people saying that usually were driving Toyotas and watching Japanese Animation. It was directed toward the food .
These are different issues than Appropriation.

In the 20's Chinese food was exotic. But it became standard fare in for most Americans by the mid 50s.
Is 'carb ragoon' a culturally appropriated food? Chop Suey?
In the 40's pizza was mostly unheard off in middle america...but after WWII servicemen returned and pop stars like Sinatra and Dean Martin sang the praises of Italian food.
But today...you don't hear someone say "I'm getting Italian Pizza"...they say "Lets have pizza"
Well, except maybe at the Olive Garden...but that's a special case. A very special case.

And for Mexican Food...the best cookbooks for that wonderful fusion of cultures are the classic "Sunset Magazine" cookbooks that
introduced middle America to Mexican cooking at a time when the only tortillas were the old el paso stuff in the can.
Yes...there was dark time when the only tortillas available for most of the nation were sold in a can. http://www.flickriver.com/photos/roadsidepictures/6442626281/

Can a Yankee make fried chicken? Can a Southerner make a new England clam chowder? And what's the "California Roll" thing.

If you make a Etouffee for Mardi Gras or a kings cake, are you appropriating Southern Catholic culture. Or does that disdain only apply to McDonald shamrock shakes for St Pats day?
E February 6, 2017
Just because someone/something/some place has always "appropriated" something is no justification for it being right. Appropriation is inherently lacking in respect. What you are describing, however, isn't appropriation though so you have your term wrong. There is no inherent disrespect in what you are saying people did/thought. I don't believe you read what I wrote. The people who called Chinese food "exotic" and "oriental" were disrespectful and engaging in appropriation. A Northerner making traditional Southern fried chicken is not appropriation. A Northerner making traditional Southern fried chicken without acknowledging to at least themselves that its roots are in slavery is appropriation. A Northerner making traditional Southern friend chicken and making a crass statement like "I like one of those fat Southern people now because of this fried chicken har har. This is all Southern people eat" (real statement I've heard people make) is appropriation. And the distinction here, like I mentioned previously is, intent. Cooking inherently is not appropriation. But the lack of acknowledging the recipes roots and/or cherry picking what parts of a culture you like are appropriation. I'm South Asian-American. Indian food is one of the most popular cuisines in America. Why do I get told at least a few times a year to "go back to your country, you terrorist" but these same people eat my cuisine? THAT is appropriation.
Sam1148 February 6, 2017
E, it's just that with the stuff we have going down now. We have a heck of a lot of problems bigger than someone 'stealing' a pizza recipe and then putting avocado on it, and still calling it a pizza.
E February 6, 2017
Actually, its exactly this kind of stuff that has gotten us to where we are today. It's called micro-aggression for a reason. Cultural appropriation is a type of micro-aggression (micro-aggression def - a statement, action, or incident regarded as an instance of indirect, subtle, or unintentional discrimination against members of a marginalized group such as a racial or ethnic minority.) Multiple micro-aggressions add up to create hostile environments. I am not attacking you, but I do think what you're saying comes from a place of privilege to say what is going on now is more serious than "stealing recipes." And I can admit that I am an incredibly privileged person. But just because there are YUGE problems going on doesn't mean we should ignore the comparatively less serious issues that have been plaguing people for centuries.
creamtea February 7, 2017
Aaah, Sunset, The Magazine of Western Living! Best recipes ever!
Jackie McMahon's book about California Rancho Cooking has the best definition of this. Her mother and grandmother on their land-grant ranch that had been handed down through generations, borrowing recipes from their Italian neighbors. Just like my mother, who came here as a young woman from war-torn Europe and learned American ways from her neighbor, a Southern lady. (I think I have one of her recipes in my profile, and ice-cream cake she used to prepare, Mrs, Owen's Luxe Ice Cream Cake, ok that may not be specifically Southern, but everyone shared recipes and made no demands.
Smaug February 6, 2017
Well, I'm planning a pizza with pepperoni for tonight. As a rule, I have no objection to stealing from everywhere; one common thread with cooks the world over is; they use what they have. What does bother me is semantic degradation; as food has become increasingly a pop culture phenomenon there's going to be a lot of this, but I'm inclined to fight it. At some point applying the same name to fundamentally different dishes (tomato-based "chili", "pizza" with pre-cooked crust, etc. etc.) renders the name meaningless- if you're going to invent a dish, it shouldn't be that hard to invent a name.

Voted the Best Reply!

E February 6, 2017
There is a fine line between culturally appropriating food, and taking a recipe from someone's elses culture as your inspiration. And it's almost never from the actual act of cooking, but rather from the way people talk/write about the food.

I am an American descendant of South Asian immigrants, and my parents crossed their culture once they entered America in the '70s. I grew up with Italian-ish pasta, and Thai-ish curries, and Aussie-ish jaffles. So you are right in that respect that the beauty of food is about crossing culture. In fact, my favorite things to make are cross cultural. I love using samosa dough and shape but filling it with Argentinian empanada fillings. I love topping my Southern style biscuit dough with togarashi before I bake them. I love using pork as a protein in my family's Muslim cuisine and Jewish cuisine, which is pretty f'd up sounding to some people. I f'ing LOVE paratha tacos, where the wrapper is paratha dough and the fillings are al pastor or something saucy and spicy.

But now consider the following - someone calling the food of your homeland "a new trend" or something calling a dish from your homeland "weird" "disgusting" "can't fathom how it could be good" - that is the cultural issues that I believe Food52 is trying to get its readers to consider. It's cultural appropriation to enjoy some aspects of the culture you are trying to enjoy, while trying to tokenize it. I was made fun of in elementary school in New York City whenever I would take South Asian food to class, but these same elementary school friends today love this cuisine. My Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Persian, Brazilian, hell even my Irish and Nordic friends were in the same boat - people made fun of their cuisine, but then those same people ended up enjoying it without any response to the hypocrisy. It's very damaging even as an adult to hear people tokenize my cuisine or my friends cuisine as if people hadn't been eating it for hundreds or thousands of years. The Food52 Ube article highlighted that - it was actually really awesome to see the various ways people were using this traditionally Filipino ingredient. I even bought myself a package of pureed ube from the Filipino market near me. But it was the WAY people were discussing ube. Calling it "weird" calling it "the new IT item" calling it everything else without ever uttering the actual culinary history of yube. Some sources didn't even highlight that it was Filipino in origin - a lot of people who wrote about ube completely ignored its heritage, and just took this item without ever highlighting points of relevance.

So yes I agree again with you that food is about crossing cultures... but at the same time, you need to acknowledge you are crossing those cultures to experiment or learn more or try something new. I hope this makes sense to you. I genuinely think the cooking of other cultures, and the making your own of other cultures cuisine is beautiful. But I also have been genuinely hurt by the way people have discussed my cuisine or my friends cuisine.
Mayukh S. February 6, 2017
Thanks so much, E, for articulating this nuance so thoughtfully.
caninechef February 6, 2017
Thank you Sam. Until it arrived on food52 the thought of politically correct food never occurred to me. It seems pretty obvious that food is a dynamic part of culture modified and shaped over the ages by all sorts of cross cultural exposures. To think this should( or can) be limited, controlled or judged counters thousands of years of human experience. Now excuse me while I reheat the okonamiyaki I made over the weekend.
Greenstuff February 5, 2017
Hah!! Have I ever! I pickled some sashimi-grade salmon and served it with wasabi-flavored creme fraiche. I'm still looking over my shoulder.
creamtea February 5, 2017
Thanks Sam! I laughed so hard. Neighbors--sometimes from different backgrounds--share recipes, people share meals. We can and should try new things. We don't need anyone's permission to do so.
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