The undeniable racism of food culture

March 4, 2017 • 1:00 pm

The BBC presents more complaints about inappropriate presentation of ethnic foods, which are now seen as “microaggressions.” Some of the transgressions that led to outrage, many catalogued by Filipino-American Celeste Noche on her podcast The Racist Sandwich, deal largely with food photography. (The bullet point prose is taken from the BBC):

  • “Whether it’s taking photos of dishes with chopsticks sticking straight up into rice or noodles (which can be seen as offensive in some Asian cultures)”, [Noche] says, “or dramatisation in the props used to style ethnic foods (why are Asian dishes so often styled on bamboo mats or banana leaves with chopsticks?)”.
  • Noche added that established food blogs like that of Andrew Zimmern also fed into stereotypes. “(His) recipe for Filipino short ribs is styled with chopsticks even though Filipinos traditionally eat with spoons and forks or their hands”.

I remember a foreign student who went to a local greasy spoon with one of my friends, who saw that student stymied by the hamburger he ordered. The student removed the two buns and ate them separately, then ate the burger with a knife and fork. Should Americans be outraged by that? Is that a microaggression—or racism? No; it’s simple ignorance, not a microaggression.

  • Similarly the food site Bon Appetit received some criticism for publishing a video last year about noodles claiming “Pho is the new Ramen.” Several commenters attacked the video for the “simplification of Asian culture” as “pho is from Vietnam and ramen from Japan”. The video was fronted by a white American chef who spoke on the ‘correct way to eat pho”. After a little more than 24 hours on the website Bon Appetit removed the video altogether, both from their Facebook and YouTube channels, and apologised for any offence they may have caused.

I don’t think the phrase “pho is the new Ramen” is even a sign of ignorance; it could mean only that pho, as an Asian noodle dish, is displacing ramen as the noodle dish favored by Americans dining out.

  • Pembroke College of Cambridge university said they were taking complaints from ethnic minority students about their menu “seriously”.”Dear Pembroke catering staff, stop mixing mango and beef and calling it ‘Jamaican stew’,” a student posted on the college’s Facebook page. “I’m actually half Jamaican, pls show me where in the Caribbean they mix fruit and meat.”Another complained about a “Tunisian rice” recipe which, well, doesn’t exist in Tunisia.The college said they would be “going through the dishes on the menu to see if any are ones that are not very well named”.

Re  Caribbean food, I was under the impression that plantains are part of many Caribberan meals, though usually served on the side. But a minute’s investigation turned up a Jamaican dish, ackee and saltfish, that’s made with fish and a fruit.

My sympathy for these beefs (pun intended) is limited. I can see (barely) some justification for some complaints if the dishes are presented as being truly authentic, but most of these “microaggressions” are based on either a desire to create fusion food inspired by a culture or, as in the case of chopsticks sticking up vertically, either a mistake or a photograph enhancement.

But look at the way American food is presented overseas; sometimes it’s barely recognizable, as with the “cornflex” served with hot milk on some menus in Nepal. And don’t talk to me about Nepalese “lasagna” (it’s still great after a hard day of trekking). But so what? French toast isn’t French, General Tso’s chicken isn’t even Chinese (neither is chop suey, an American bastardization of a regional Chinese dish, debased for American tastes), and what passes for a “baguette” in America would make the French recoil.  But food, like music, almost begs to be fused with the products of other ethnicities, and if in so doing it loses its “authenticity,” is that racism? If American food is spiced up in other countries to cater to local tastes, is that a microaggression? (This is the case, for instance, in some of the “vegetable patties” you get on trains in India; a spiced up version of British food.) You can’t say that only minorities have a right to complain about that, because British or American food in other countries is a “minority food.”

As I said, food can sometimes be a vehicle for a lack of cultural sensitivity: I can imagine, for instance, Westerners asking overseas visitors ignorant questions about their cuisine. But some of that comes from pure ignorance, not racism.

One gets the feeling that these kvetching students are simply looking for something to complain about, something that gives them victim credit.

An ethnic slur on the French?

h/t: Cindy

112 thoughts on “The undeniable racism of food culture

  1. It keeps getting harder and harder to satirize these people.

    I remember just a few years ago, we were joking about how one day, we would need trigger warnings for trigger warnings. Soon enough, multiple sites started giving trigger warnings that there would be trigger warnings ahead, so one wouldn’t have to be triggered by reading the trigger warnings themselves.

    It happens again and again. Satire becomes impossible because every time you think you’ve taken things far enough that the regressive left couldn’t possibly reach your joke, they eventually do — and then keep pushing even further on.

    1. It’s so meta.

      I was thinking the same thing. A racist sandwich. Hmmmm. I only eat inclusive sandwiches myself, oh wait, that’s cultural appropriation. What do white trash eat? I’m only allowed to eat that.

    2. I used to mock illiberal leftists, saying things like “Islam is feminist” and “biological sex isn’t real”….I even made Nazi jokes during the election “everyone who disagrees with me is Hitler”

      And…They go and do it. You can’t even mock them with absurdities because they MAKE IT REAL.

      It’s mind boggling really.

      1. We always think we’re satirizing them, but we’re really just one or two steps ahead of where they’re headed.

  2. By the way, Jerry, of course the way that student ate the hamburger wasn’t a microaggression, nor is that French toast one towards the French. We’re talking about the oppressors, and they can’t be microaggressed against.

      1. @Randy Schenck I do believe “English muffins” were a 19th century NYC invention by an English immigrant. I think he called them “English” to distinguish them from the extant much sweeter American muffin.

        Thomas’ – heaven with cheese & bacon!

      2. There’s a Thomas’s bakery about 20 miles from me in Frederick, Maryland (about 50 miles northwest of Washington, DC). Best part of all: it is situated on a street named English Muffin Way. Even better, a good craft brewery– Flying Dog — is a couple blocks along. Great tasting room.

      1. Just like how French toast is (from what I remember from my grade 11 French teacher) in some French speaking places called not “pain d’oré” but “pain allemande”. Of course the Germans call it “anglische brot”, and the circle is complete.

        (For those who don’t get it:
        English: “French toast”
        French (sometimes): “German bread”
        German: “English bread”)

  3. “One gets the feeling that these kvetching students are simply looking for something to complain about, something that gives them victim credit.”

    Yes, I tend to agree. I would also tend to say that focusing on such trivialities allows such people to avoid having to do the hard work of grappling with serious, difficult, real-world problems. Much easier to complain about microaggressions than to lobby, or fundraise, or simply rail on about income inequality, say.

    In many ways, the more trivial the conflict is, the more likely it is that you can affect change, either because the opposing side cares about bigger things (so you can outlast them), or there is not really an opposing side at all. I think a lot of appeal of complaining about microaggressions is that it has a much higher chance of leading to quick gratification. A small change on a college dorm menu because the administration has bigger things to worry about (as does everyone else who thinks the complaint is absurd) is a nice little ego boost for the complainant, and an easily construed small victory for progress.

    Real problems are hard to tackle. I think that microproblems are largely for those who are impatient, superficial, and ultimately interested only in their own (moral) gratification. Immaturity surely plays a large role in all three of those factors, which is why we see this type of stuff so often with undergraduate university students.

    1. I’ve pointed out to the cultural appropriation people that focusing on minutia allows them to completely by-pass any issues that could actually make a difference in people’s lives.

    2. The fact is, these students have two types of social currency in their groups: victimhood and activist cred. The more often you’re expressing outrage, the greater your activist cred. The more things you find to be outraged about that ostensibly affect “your” particular group/identity, the greater your victimhood cred.

    3. I agree with you. I am always surprised what outrages some people these days- especially when there are actual BILLS in congress that will completely destroy the EPA and curtail many women’s (mostly poor) ability to get an abortion. Get as outraged about the real stuff and get active!

    4. Plus there is also an insidious element

      But food, like music, almost begs to be fused with the products of other ethnicities, and if in so doing it loses its “authenticity,” is that racism?/blockquote>If you ‘permit’ fusing of ethnicities you are undermining your own ‘identity’ or those of your favoured sub-group. And the bow wave of extreme leftist thinking is pushing for more and more ‘identities’ to be political about – manufacturing the raw material to be subsequently found offensive.

      Finding new sources of ‘stuff’ to be offended about (often on behalf of other people) is a selfgenerating cottage industry

  4. I’m telling ya, overhauling my diet was like ditching a religion – and when you see this nonsense, it becomes nonsense on nonsense. It is peculiar, for instance, that nobody goes after unpopular dishes – vegetarian pasta? Anyone go after that? How about jackfruit tacos?

    1. I’m trying to decide which is crazier. Allowing yourself to eat delicious, unhealthy garbage or not allowing yourself to eat delicious, unhealthy garbage.

        1. Wisdom.

          Some people say “nothing tastes as good as looking fit feels”. Sometimes I think they’re right. Other times, like when I discover a new gourmet bakery, I’m certain they’re wrong. Life is too short for that kind of costly signaling.

          1. Salt/fat/sugar – we all know this – look for this power trio and you notice it’s everywhere. It’s also true that the message “eating like that is OK” is all over the place. I’m more and more convinced it’s not OK. Next time you make some muffins, don’t scoop sugar in – just a few raisins. I just did this and I’m never going back.

            It’s mostly habit, it takes discipline, and it’s more serious than “looking good” or “feeling good”…. should I recommend a diet book for people who like me think diet books are stupid?

  5. We English speakers micro-aggress the Dutch all the time for the way we pronounce Gouda the way we do. And what about Caesar with the soft “C”? We microagress the ancestors of the Ancient Romans, the Italians; but then again it was the Catholic Church that started that awful soft “C” so maybe they are responsible for some sort of phonetic genocide!

    Notice my examples were all white on white micro-aggressions. It’s because only white people are fuckers this way, clearly, if you’re to read these articles. Only whites are racist and only whites take bits and pieces from various cultures and make something new from it – the rest of the world is inclusive and authentic and I suppose just not about innovation through cultural appropriation (I think I just came up with the name of a new start up).

    1. Yes, but do you want your cheese to sound like something you ride in on top of an elephant?

      1. My standard line is that Holland can stop sending Canada tulips every year for liberating them during WWII if they let us pronounce their cheese however we want. We liberate you, you let us say Gouda wrong. Seems like a fair quid pro quo. 🙂

    2. I confess to becoming unreasonably fractious when people (ok Americans) talk about that Dutch painter Vango

      1. Outside the Netherlands, it’s probably only the Scots, Welsh and Germans who can cope easily with this. If there are others I’m sure you’ll all let me know.

      2. Arabs would have no problems either. Note there is not just Vincent Van Gogh the impressionist painter (who never sold one painting during his lifetime), but there is also Theo Van Gogh who worked with Ayaan on their short film about subjugation of women in Islam and was brutally murdered for that.
        Appears to be a cursed name 😲

      1. I bet it wasn’t pronounced “Kaiser” which is a closer approximation to how “Caesar” is supposed to be pronounced. When German speakers culturally appropriate, at least they do so accurately. 😀

  6. One gets the feeling that these kvetching students are simply looking for something to complain about, something that gives them victim credit.

    Ding-ding-ding. Give that man a cigar!

        1. Back when I used to eat more coldcuts, I also lived in a somewhat Jewish area of Pittsburgh. I used to buy ham and bagels at the local Giant Eagle from time to time. Nobody ever said anything. Americans are more capitalist than confrontational, at least sometimes. 😉

  7. Pho, according to two dictionaries I consulted, is a Vietnamese soup. It does typically contain noodles however.

  8. Dear Pembroke catering staff, stop mixing mango and beef and calling it ‘Jamaican stew’,” a student posted on the college’s Facebook page. “I’m actually half Jamaican

    So did your parents eat separate meals?

    The ultimate aim of the ‘cultural appropriation’ panic is to end miscegenation.

    ‘Mixed race’, or ‘dual heritage’, is the third largest – and fastest growing – ethnic group in the U.K. That’s got race hustlers on the right and left in a tizzy.

    1. I would have thought it was actually overwhelmingly the largest group, probably >99%, given the English’ bastard ancestry of Britons, Picts, Danes, Angles, Romans, Norsemen, Normans, and all the other invading rabble who came, saw and shagged the local women.

      But I guess that’s not the intended meaning of the current definition of ‘mixed-race’….



      1. Yes, but one of the burdens of privilege is having to pretend that you don’t have a history that, if you chose to wallow in it, would make you a victim too.

        1. 😎

          This English bastard finds it expedient not to specify his views on haggis. Though I’m sure Andrew Zimmern (the butt of my comment below) would find it absolutely delicious.


          1. My ex-wife (a Geordie) had an excellent recipe for making haggis palatable. Separate the innards from the skin, and cook with tinned tomatoes and Italian herbs. I still makes this delicious Haggis Italiano, served in the traditional Scottish way with mashed potatoes and neeps. So much for cultural appropriation. Try it – go on, I dare you 🙂

            1. I am immune to dares.

              Or put it another way, I am a complete and utter wimp when it comes to carnivorous food. If it is an identifiable part of an animal (that is to say, anything other than a generic chunk of muscle), I won’t go near it.

              I do eat meat pies, but when somebody finds a way to make artificial meaty filling from potatoes plus 100% synthetic flavouring, I will be a happy chappy 😉

              (That admission is probably sacrilege on this site. See if I care)


            2. Sounds delicious, but then this English bastard loves traditional Haggis too. Never seen one in the wild, though, sneaky wee buggers.

            3. I have to confess that despite my name I am not into the food of my ancestors. (Scottish in this case.) German is modestly more interesting, to pick another few sides of the family. English is there too and also pretty lousy. At least until “reverse colonialism” happened: curry everywhere!!

  9. I’m going to make an Irish stew for dinner (practicing for St. Paddies’s day, coming up), but I’m using beef, not lamb, which is more traditional. Shhh… don’t tell anyone.

    Oh wait, I’m half Irish, so I guess I can do whatever the fuck I want.

  10. This is actually very nice, but heavy on the stomach:

    If you are looking for a delicious and traditional Jamaican drink, then anything with the word ‘punch’ in the title is sure to be a winner! The term ‘Punch’ refers to a mixed drink of some sort and there are many varieties of this popular drink available to suit all tastes in Jamaica.

    Jamaican Guinness Punch is delicious and oh so moreish and is easily one of my all time favourite Jamaican drinks. Sweet, bitter, cool and nourishing at the same time and with that kick of nutmeg and vanilla…. OMG, So good! You have to taste it to know.

    Jamaican Guinness Punch Recipe

    This is an easy recipe to follow and once you get the hang of it you will be rustling up Jamaican Guinness Punch in no time! There are many methods for making this drink and some of the ingredients can be substituted, or omitted if you prefer, so there are no hard and fast rules.

    1. @Speaker to Animals
      That’s very interesting – what’s the function of the oats in that recipe?

      Something you should try is bottled Guinness FES [Foreign Extra Stout] on it’s own. It was formulated for Irish immigrant workers in the Caribbean – the recipe changes ensured it travelled better from Dublin that long distance. It is far superior to all other bottled or kegged Guinness [also more alcohol!], but for the one for the Nigerian market which is spectacular! I haven’t had the Nigerian for years & maybe it no longer is brewed.

      Anyway here is the Tesco Guinness West Indies Porter 500Ml if you want to give it a go. It’s the dog’s bollocks:

      1. I don’t know what the function of the oats is but I make Athol Brose most winters and that calls for soaking oats in scotch for up to 72 hours.

        1. @Newish Gnu I’ve heard of Athol Brose, but never had the good fortune to have it offered to me. Can you post your recipe here please & I’ll give it a go. And mention your preferred whisky too if you will.

          It would be interesting to find out the histories of these oats-type alcoholic drinks. I would expect the Guinness thing to be a ‘child’ of the whisky thing.

          P.S. I thought the whisky was added to the oats liquid after the 72 hrs & just before the cream.

          1. Frankly, I’m not sure I’ve ever made it the same way twice. And I actually prefer (heresy alert!) Irish whiskey to scotch — and I’m not sure I have a favorite brand (much more research needs to be done!), but here goes:

            2.5 cups scotch
            1/2 cup steel cut oats
            2/3 cup heavy cream
            1/4 cup honey
            1 ounce, more or less, of vodka

            Put scotch and oats in a glass bowl, cover with a cheese cloth, put in a cool place, let sit for 48 to 72 hours.

            Strain the oats out of the whiskey with a cheesecloth or other fine-meshed strainer. (I tried cooking and eating the oats once, but can’t recommend that). The liquid is “brose”.

            Slowly heat the cream and honey. Don’t go beyond it just beginning to bubble and maybe less than that. I find stirring frequently helps avoid hot spots. Turn off the heat.

            Stirring continuously, drizzle in the vodka ( I’m told this can prevent curdling cream in the next step.)

            Now stir the cream/honey into the brose.

            Serve warm.

            If I was going to use scotch, I would avoid the peaty ones like Laphroige.

            Good luck! As long as you don’t curdle the cream, you can’t go wrong.

        1. Indeed. I have a classmate from high school and CEGEP, Sean Hughes. He’s “Mr. Multiethnic”. If I remember correctly, his great-grandparents came from 7 different countries – almost the maximum possible! Some Caribbean Irish and each of the parts in there somewhere, probably.

      2. Would that be before or after the dog has licked them?

        (And how on earth did that figure of speech get started?)


          1. Thanks for that link. A whole page full of bollocks.

            It reminds me of the anecdotal biology teacher who was discussing animal senses and prompted his class “What is there that a dog can do that a human cannot?” Sarcastic answer from back of class: “Lick his balls”.

            As for where the fck is the y – WordPress stole it. It steals it every time. Somewhere it has a cache full of stolen y’s of mine. I think it’s trying to emasculate me.


  11. Once again, you neglect a very real problem. On my last visit to a US dlicatessen, I saw “kosher dill” on the menu. And it hadn’t even been properly slaughtered!

    More seriously, given the realities, sholld we give these wankers the oxygen of attention?

  12. You mentioned Anbdrew Zimmern. Ugh! The women of this establishment had some Youboob videos of him on last night, for some unfathomable reason. Fortunately I’d already eaten or I would not have been able to stomach dinner.

    I can’t help wondering if some of the ethnic people featured saw him coming – “Hey, let’s think of the most revolting shit we possibly can – stuff that would get us jailed if we fed it to rats – and see if we can get that moron to eat it!”


    1. P.S. I was ‘cruising’ through Moscow on Streetview last night, translating Cyrillic signs into Latin alphabet for practice, and was amused when one of them turned out to say ‘B-u-r-g-e-r K-i-n-g’. Which is a relief, however ethnic and Andrew Zimmern-delighting Russian food turns out to be, I will at least be able to fall back on *something* I can bring myself to eat. 😉


    2. Zimmern wants the authentic, the traditional, the unusual, and, yes, the exotic. It’s what he truly seems to enjoy, with a few exceptions (walnuts and durian, probably a couple others). Whether it’s muskrat stew in Maryland, roasted leaf hoppers in Africa, or rotten Greenland shark in Greenland he’s happy and excited for the chance to try it. I dare say he’s probably much more concerned for and interested in ethnic food cultures the world over than a lot of college kids and food bloggers. If you’re cooking up a squirrel, not only will he want a bite, he’s going to want to share recipes with you.

  13. You call all that cultural insensitivity? THIS is real cultural insensitivity:

    When Euro Disney opened in France they didn’t permit alcohol in their restaurants. Imagine that – no wine in a French restaurant! [they changed the rule a year later in four restaurants because poor EUROPEAN visitor numbers]

    McDonald’s arrived in the UK in 1974 & AFAIK to this day they STILL don’t offer vinegar as a condiment for us Brits to put on our chips [fries]. I discovered this during my first & last visit to their chain in ’76.

    1. Last time I looked (several years ago, actually) McDonald’s in Casnada did have vinegar for the fries

      1. @Julian C Yes, that’s true – McDonalds Canada offer vinegar packets whereas the UK appears not to. I think the vinegar offered by them in Mapleland is the lamentable white vinegar, which is simply not up to the job! Am I right?

        It looks as if the Philippines has the same problem as the UK. This blogger recommends bringing your own salt & MALT vinegar [I’d forgotten salt isn’t offered either]:-

        1. Don’t they come pre-salted?

          I remember when McDonalds were planning to open in the UK, there was a discussion on how the Brits would react to “precondimentation” of their burgers. This wonderful word turned out to mean adding all the extra goop without asking the customer. And so our language was once again enhanced by the USA.

          1. You’re right. Darn those Americans for appropriating another country’s language. What next, racism in food?

    2. Weird with vinegar. They only had malt when we were in Vegas last week. The fries were yummy anyway though.

      1. @Diane Do you not like the vinegar/fries combo of tastes then?

        P.S. I can’t find your comment from a few hours ago re being an “ugly white girl” [I think you wrote].

        Well rubbish! I don’t need to see you to know you’re the bee’s knees – your comments here tell me so [I forgive you for your toilet-roll-orientation heresy BTW]

        1. Ha ha thanks Michael.

          I find the malt vinegar overpowering with my fish and chips, which I had in Vegas last week and now, come to think of it, that’s probably unusual in the pacific side of the US. It wasn’t very good but there was a yummy dill sauce and the chips were good.

  14. I don’t know that a Japanese person would feel *offended* by an ad showing chopsticks sticking straight up into rice or noodles, but they’d surely feel that the advertiser didn’t know what he was doing, because placing chopsticks that way is something that’s done only at funerals (I learned that one the hard way, having dinner with my English students one evening in Osaka back in 1970).

  15. Time was, it was only the snooty French carping about this — about how others were screwing up their velouté or Béchamel or what-have-you sauces.

    And even they seem to have given up le fantôme on this one. The sooner everyone else does, the better.

  16. This whole purist thing about ethnicity and the food or customs associated therewith drives me nuts. I collect recipes from family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and anyone else who will share. It’s how my eating range has extended from mid-western (via the south) to a wide range of other exceptional ethnic foods and dishes. That is one of the benefits of having such a mix of peoples in the U.S. Many of the big cities in the U.S offer a great diversity of ethnic foods prepared by ethnic people (in many cases, for ethnic people.)

    There are some weird foods in other cultures, which we can take to, or not, as we choose. Japan has taken to putting corn on pastries. While in Canada, I was served a hamburger that had been fried in oil previously used to fry fish. Russian food is among the most insipid or tasteless food I’ve ever eaten. (One of the high school students from this town who visited Russia some years ago was under the impression that all they ate was potatoes.)

    As has been pointed out, few of us are “pure” versions of any nationality. I am a mix of at least seven countries of origin and I don’t even have a way of guessing what mixtures each of those progenitors was.

    Instead of bitching, it might be more useful to focus attention and energies on more important issues.

    1. I once ate in a ‘proper’ Chinese restaurant in London where most of the other diners were ethnic Chinese (as far as I could tell). The food was markedly different from that served in ‘ordinary’ Chinese restaurants elsewhere in the UK, and different again from an American Chinese buffet in Florida.

      The moral of this story? Restaurants sell what their target customers will eat – and to hell with authenticity because that is often a only niche audience in a different community.

      1. I’ve eaten in similar primarily Chinese focused restaurants in the UK and the Netherlands, and the food was different, UK is traditionally HK Chinese, Netherlands Indonesian Chinese.
        Greatly prefer the latter, but thats just me.

  17. The “French” toast I remember has the crusts removed before it is fried in egg batter, and served with maple syrup or golden syrup. Still too rich tho.

    1. French was known as Gypsy toast when I was a lad. Nowadays I normally hear it referred to as eggy bread.

  18. Mountains over molehills. I am Filipino and Filipino cuisine is a fusion of Asian, Spanish, and indigenous styles. We may not use chopsticks, but we also did not use spoons and forks, we eat with our fingers. I can basically any meal with just my hands (excepts soups).

    And I don’t care for cultural appropriation. People can take our basic style and meld it with their own. Indeed I’ve seen dozen of “fusion” restaurants that use Filipino style along with others.

    And it’s not like we Filipinos don’t appropriate other cuisine. Look what we did with spaghetti. Ours is a sweet comfort food for children. It almost looks nothing like the Italian original. Or our local fried chicken (marinated with soy sauce).

    1. I’m surprised Filipino eateries aren’t popular in the UK, the whole Silog fried breakfast/brunch thing should by rights be a huge winner in the UK.
      Its almost as if its not eastern’ or ‘exotic’ enough to to attract the attention of food snobs who seem to be the first to popularise food fads.

      I confess to have crudely appropriated this concept with localised flavour, and dubbed it Brit-silog.
      I’m also working on a Dutch variant, which I’ve called Clog-silog, just because its sounds funny, but their rookworst is a great addition.

  19. If I understand correctly then only Peruvian-Belgians can eat French Fries. Potatoes from Peru and the rench Fry from Belgium!

  20. “The student removed the two buns and ate them separately, then ate the burger with a knife and fork. Should Americans be outraged by that? Is that a microaggression—or racism? No; it’s simple ignorance, not a microaggression.”

    You forgot that according to these people, minorities can not be racist. Only the “dominant” class can be racist.

  21. Food changes like culture and language does. Every prepared food today had a precursor that was changed by our ignorant, racist, microaggressive ancestors.

    So all the complainers better stop eating their “originals” and research the real™ originals. But don’t complain (again) if you end up with the paleolithic diet.

  22. correctness = aggression = stupidity

    what about curiosity, education and fun?

    don’t let few overzealous destroy our joy of life!

    Good food is good and it does not matter how one enjoys it!

    Thank you for interesting comments!

  23. “Whether it’s taking photos of dishes with chopsticks sticking straight up into rice or noodles (which can be seen as offensive in some Asian cultures)”

    This just seems like a really strange thing to say after yesterday I saw links to a piece on Pixar localising films.

    Apparently changing, films to more closely reflect the culture where the film is being consumed is okay. (Happens in both directions) But changing how food is presented to more closely reflect the culture where the food is consumed is not okay? (Also happens in both directions.) Is it really too much to ask for some sort of consistency?!

    1. I remember that in one of the Shrek movies a character originally voiced by Larry King was dubbed by Jonathan Ross on the reasoning that kids in the U.K. wouldn’t have a clue who Larry King was. I’m fine with that.

      On the other hand, Kindle editions of John Wyndham books with ‘lorry’ replaced with ‘truck’? That’s just nasty.

      If you don’t like English English John Wyndham isn’t the writer for you.

  24. In foreign Pizza chains in India (e.g. Pizza Hut and Dominos), one usually has a choice between menu items of the form “Panneer Tikka Cheeseburst Pizza” and “Mushrooom Matar Pizza”. On the scale of some of the reactions mentioned in this post, I suspect such foods might be considered not just a micro-aggression but a full blown declaration of war.

    But then, the chains won’t survive the competition if they didn’t do in India as the Indians do.

    1. A local one-off pizza place here in Ottawa makes a tandoori pizza. I can’t remember if that’s the guys who run the Elvis spotting or one of the many places run by Lebanese or Syrians. In any case, it was good if a little bland.

  25. What’s absurd to me is that these screams of “microaggression!”, or, “cultural appropriation!”, designed to “defend” a particular culture are defending something that is, in essence, IMAGINARY: over the centuries, peoples across the world, separated by geography, came up with “traditional”, particular ways of doing things, but these “ways” of doing things by no means make them “superior” to any OTHER way of doing it, just different. One might claim that pizza is “part” of American culture, yet there are hundreds of different ways to make pizza. I have no problem with someone who PRESENTS a product as being the same as a “culturally-traditional” one, but isn’t, being called out on it, but the claim that someone is “appropriating” an aspect of a different culture is utter nonsense. Should we defend ANYTHING simply because it’s a part of a “culture”? Honor killings are “part of the culture” in many parts of the world…

  26. The British chef Jamie Oliver recieved a lot of hate on social media because he published a recipe for paella that included – wait for it- chorizo. This it seems is considered a major crime here in Spain.

    As far as I am concerned you can put what you like in it.

    1. I think that was indeed the case – some regions eat it in different ways with different ingredients. Isn’t that what peasant food is? what you can get goes in the pot – you may be lucky to get a bit of bacon, or maybe make do with beans or whatever…

  27. What gets my goat is Europeans, Africans, Asians, South Americans, Indians, Scottish, Welsh and Irish wearing English-style suits and hats. You Yanks are all right, though, because most of you (outside of NY anyway) are within our nested hierarchy.

    And what is wrong with eating a hamburger with a knife and fork? You’d never get older members of the Crine eating that damp, dank, pappy, cotton-wool textured, steamed crud which surrounds the unappetising but marginally less inedible grey machine-milled, gristle-rich protein innards so eating irons are essential. And what’s good enough for HM is good enough for me.

  28. To Don Qijote:

    The worst paella I ever ate was in a hotel restaurant in southern Spain. How dare the Spaniards appropriate and then exaggerate our appalling cooking skills!

  29. I have appropriated American cuisine. I once tried roadkill. It was delicious.
    And I sold his bike for 50 quid 🙂

    1. Miles & miles of golden sand,
      Whitley Bay Northumberland!

      I never have the chicken… but always have naan!

  30. One can be insensitive with food customs, but like with anything, the extremes are ridiculous.

    One of the reasons Ottawa has gotten better foodwise is one can eat all sorts of wonderful things (instead of bland Canadiana :)).

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