Again, the rationale found on that website almost leaves me speechless. Some people must have very little to worry about in life.
In case you were at ease thinking you could dodge the PC squad, having checked all your privileges and self-flagellated just enough to placate them, guess again – you could also be guilty of oppressing ethnic minorities through what you eat.
Cultural appropriation is when members of a dominant culture adopt parts of another culture from people that they’ve also systematically oppressed. (…)
With food, it isn’t just eating food from someone else’s culture. It might not be appropriation if you’re White and you love eating dumplings and hand pulled noodles. Enjoying food from another culture is perfectly fine.
But, food is appropriated when people from the dominant culture – in the case of the US, white folks – start to fetishize or commercialize it, and when they hoard access to that particular food.
In other words, it’s fine to enjoy it now and then, just don’t enjoy it too much, sell it or try to popularise it if you can. Even if by selling and making it popular you are employing members of the culture you are supposedly oppressing (let’s be serious; major restaurants selling foreign food tend to employ people who are experts at making it). If you’re a white restaurant owner, that is a no-no. Forget the fact that you’re creating jobs.
By buying and consuming the food, it is implied that the average customer, who is probably just curious (also a sin without paying due reverence to the culture, as you will later read) also takes part in the ongoing oppression of that community – and is therefore guilty of supporting colonisation.
When a dominant culture reduces another community to its cuisine, subsumes histories and stories into menu items – when people think culture can seemingly be understood with a bite of food, that’s where it gets problematic.
Who even does that?
Who claims to understand a culture just by liking a foreign dish? That’s the first I’ve heard of it – because it’s insane. Perhaps the author is confusing people’s lack of information, which can be just the same with or without liking said dish, with claiming expert status, which I doubt anyone in their right mind would do.
Here are some dining behaviors that are culturally appropriative when it comes to food.
So this is linked to consumption directly, not even to the unethical sourcing of ingredients (which is a just cause for boycotting) or commercialisation.
Usually, we re talking about Thai, Vietnamese, Indian, Ethiopian, and Mexican food –places where food is cooked by the “brownest” people. (…)While food from Western Europe is still connected to ethnic roots, ethnic food has become reserved only for ethnicities that are perceived as exotic and foreign to White folks.
No; that’s just her interpretation of it. It is a generic term with a generic meaning. And even if this appraisal was accurate, what would be morally wrong, in the mind of a rational person, with wanting to try exotic foods? Human beings are naturally curious; they enjoy new experiences.
While food can connect people together and also serve as a way to learn about cultures other than our own, what happens is that food becomes the only identifier for certain places. (…) Entire regions become deduced* to menu options and ingredients without any thought to the many different communities in these places. There’s a loss of complexity and cultures end up getting homogenized.
*That must be a typo; she must have meant reduced.
No; that’s what happens in egocentric countries where ignorance is viewed as normal, like (awkward cough) the USA. It can can affect all races, ethnic minorities and creeds. You don’t normally see other tourists in talking excessively about the one thing they know about the country they’re visiting – as that shows they don’t know much at all. Of course, that is also a stereotype and can have little meaning nowadays, in the age of information. Again, that’s still not a reason to avoid foreign dishes.
They end up getting homogenised in that person’s head. Is that really such a problem for the rest of the world? Does if affect anyone outside of it, aside from (maybe) hearing ignorant comments from time to time? And if that person never went near foreign dishes, would they be less ignorant?
In seeking “authentic” food, we’re hoping for a truly immersive experience into another culture. The food experience, whether in a restaurant in someone’s home city or as part of a trip somewhere else, comes to represent a larger experience with that culture and community.
Says who? Wanting authentic food is just that – wanting it to taste genuinely as it is supposed to and not be poorly cooked, in order to leave you with the wrong impression. Who mandates that it’s more than having a meal and people are seeking “immersive” experiences when they visit a restaurant? How immersive could they be, realistically?
Unlike what progressives think, not everyone overanalyses every bastard triviality, every bastard second of the day.
In addition to this, she mentions visits somewhere else – which means that not even when investing in a visit to a foreign country are you allowed to seek and enjoy authentic food in good conscience. Never mind that you saved up for the trip and do get to interact with the culture somewhat. You’re still meant to feel guilty about this.
And here’s why:
The impacts of historical and ongoing colonization are devastating to many cultures, and many “authentic” “ethnic” cuisines are connected to histories of colonization.
Translation – don’t you dare eat something without researching its history (of the recipe, that is, as hopefully anything in there is fresh enough not to have a very long history). And if you do research it and revere it enough to dare eating it, make sure you pray over it first. If somehow you are brave enough to cook it yourself, make sure you add some guilt as a final touch. You know – for things you didn’t do.
If you love a dish and think it’s delicious, great! If you’re searching for a place that serves a particular dish, also great! However, seeking “authenticity” fetishizes the sustenance of another culture. The idea of the “authentic” food experience is separated from reality. It also freezes a culture in a particular place in time.
Let me attempt to understand this.
If members of your (dominant) culture should not be allowed to prepare and commercialise it, because that would be immoral, your only moral resort would be to buy it from members of the culture it originates from. Which would make it authentic. However, seeking authenticity is a form of fetishism. This makes no sense. I mean, it makes even less sense than the rest of the article.
Context matters. For example, asking if I’ve found any hand-pulled noodle joints that I like in the area is different than asking if I know authentic hand-pulled noodle joints. The difference is that what you’re seeking is one person and one place to represent an entire culture for you.
Again, complete nonsense. It’s only logical to assume that in the second situation they’re also asking you about a place nearby, in order to go there, not about a place from overseas. There is no difference, aside from introducing the word “authentic” into the question and unwittingly triggering you (to be labelled cultural fetishists undeservedly).
There is no one right way to eat something and no one perfect dish to eat. People from different cultures all have their own food preferences, too – the unique ways their families make something or the way they prepare their own meal. It’d be like me asking, “Hey, what’s the most authentic way to eat a hamburger?”
That applies to your home, absolutely. However, in public, things are not that simple. There are different types of implements for a variety of foods and, as snobbish as that is, in certain places, ignorance means you automatically make an ass of yourself, to the amusement of everyone around you. You can’t really watch people eating, as that would also make you a weirdo. The friend who asks you how to eat something almost definitely just wants to avoid being embarrassed, and perhaps embarrassing you by association as well.
Don’t constantly treat your friend of color as your food tour guide. We’re happy eating our cultural foods with you, but that’s not what our entire friendship should be about.
And who even suggests that if you’re often asked such questions – because you presumably know better than other people in your group – you are some token food tour guide…? Honestly, those who are so suspicious and so jumpy about everything others say… well, they are lucky if they manage to have friends in the first place. Most people would run like hell at the fist sign of sanctimoniousness.
When people think they’re being adventurous for trying food from another culture, it’s the same thing as treating that food as bizarre or weird.
Well, maybe it is.The 100 year egg is mentioned at the beginning of this article. Most people in the west would not even take a chance with an egg that was slightly out of date and many people cook it thoroughly in order to avoid getting Salmonella. The smell of rotten eggs makes most westerners want to vomit. The centenary egg, besides being incredibly disgusting to think of, must pose a health hazard to people who are not used to it (though I’m not sure even Salmonella could live inside that thing for a hundred years). It looks like something fished out of a bin after rotting there for a fortnight. Very hot chilies are another example, some of them being painful to eat. It would not be strange to read somewhere “I had two Bhut Jolokias today and survived.”
What I noticed about progressives in general is that they just want to drain the fun out of each human experience. Down to the last drop. They seek to shame people for everything they enjoy, almost worse than mainstream religions.
The person outside of the culture becomes the person with “insider” knowledge about this exotic, other culture. The theme of “Westerner as cultural connoisseur” is rooted in imperialist ideas about discovering another culture and then making oneself the main character in the exchange. “I was transformed by my trip to [fill in the blank].”
In other words,this is a diluted form of imperialism. You’re not allowed to be the main character in a story about you eating strange food – it is immoral to describe a personal experience as a personal experience. And again, the author has this bizarre idea that whoever does it automatically assumes they’re an expert on said culture.
When food gets disconnected from the communities and places its from, people can easily start forgetting and ignoring historical and ongoing oppression faced by those communities. America has corporatized “Middle Eastern food” like hummus and falafel, and some people might live by halal food carts, but not understand or address the ongoing Islamophobia in the US.
Good grief. Now food is politicised as well. Soon there will be nothing – and I mean nothing – that won’t require analysing through the feminist lens.
Eating food from another culture in isolation from that culture’s history and also current issues mean that we’re just borrowing the pieces that are enjoyable – palatable and easily digestible.
One should absolutely learn everything about a culture before they dare order a take-away. Which would make them fairly knowledgeable, to think of it – the very thing the author of the piece resents. According to her, one should not claim to have inside knowledge just because they’ve tried a dish – but at the same time, should not try it before becoming thoroughly accustomed to that culture. Which one is it? Perhaps both? Perhaps trying to find out as much as possible but feigning ignorance? What a shamed, cornered and self-conscious individual one would have to be to fret over all these non-issues.
(…) However, it’s critical for us to reflect on how we perceive the cultures that we’re consuming and think about the relationships between food, people, and power.
Colonization and gentrification are directly related to the appropriation of food. We also need to begin educating ourselves on issues and event that impact the communities that we’re drawing our meals from.
Yes, that is the first thing on the agenda for people who have a lot of work to do and grab a bite on the run.
The second paragraph almost sounds as if by borrowing recipes and ordering from foreign eating venues you’re literally stealing off of someone’s table.
What a strange preoccupation and what a strange article.