Every time you eat a taco from that local "authentic place", culture has been appropriated

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#1
http://everydayfeminism.com/2015/11/foodie-without-appropriation/

1. Seeking ‘Authentic’ and ‘Exotic’ ‘Ethnic’ Food

Often, when we talk about “ethnic” food, we’re not referring to French, German, or Italian cuisine, and definitely not those Ikea Swedish meatballs.

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.

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. Japan reduced to ramen and sushi, Mexico reduced to tacos and burritos, India reduced to curry, and so on.

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.

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. Our perceptions of what is “authentic” stem from pre-conceived “exotic narratives” of that culture and communities.

“Oh, during my trip to Asia, I had the most authentic [fill in the blank].”

Food culture has travelled and flowed in messy and complicated ways across the globe.

The impacts of historical and ongoing colonization are devastating to many cultures, and many “authentic” “ethnic” cuisines are connected to histories of colonization.

For example, what is now Vietnam had been occupied by China for a thousand years and then colonized by France. This period of colonization is also what led to things like banh mi (sandwiches) and banh ex (crepes). The use of spam in different parts of Asia and the Pacific Islands, like spam musabi or spam in hot pot, are a direct result of US colonization.

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.

2. Having Your Friend of Color Be Your Food Expert

Don’t get me wrong, I love sharing foods from my culture with friends. I also love helping friends with restaurant recommendations and spending a long time on Yelp! trying to find good options for a group to go.

Where I take issue is when I become someone’s food ambassador to all of Asia.

Some friends have expected me to know where to get ramen, “real” Chinese food, “street-style” Thai food, Korean BBQ – and they’re disappointed when I don’t know. These are also the friends that once made fun of my food.

As someone who straddles different cultural identities, as Taiwanese and American, my knowledge of my culture comes from my parents and my personal experiences growing up.

My experiences of Taiwanese food are mostly from following my parents around, and because my language skills are rudimentary, I can never find the restaurant we went to or order the same things they did again.

There’s also a lot I don’t know about other Asian cultures, about the complex relationships and power dynamics between Asian countries. There’s a lot that I’m still learning, too. I do my own research on places to check out and you can too.


“What is the most authentic way to eat this?” “Where can I go to find authentic [fill in the blank]?”

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.

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?”

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.

3. Wanting Adventure Points for Eating Food

Like early explorers “discovering” spices on their quests for new trade routes, some diners today are on similar quests to “discover” different ingredients and cuisines.

It’s great when people want to try foods they’re not used to or when they’re open to eating different things, but what ends up being problematic is when people want to be rewarded for their bold, adventurous experimentation with another culture. Where people can now literally check in on an app and receive a badge for their food adventures, but others want bonus real life adventure points.

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.

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].”

Some folks want to be applauded for trying chicken feet, fermented bean curd, or just for eating with chopsticks. It’s disconcerting to eat with folks who are going to giggle about ingredients make comments like, “Oh my god, this is so weird! This is gross!” and run back to tell all their other friends about trying it and how “awesome” that experience was.

One of my favorite foods is a Szechuan dish with pig intestine and congealed pigs blood, and my parents get it as take out for whenever I visit home. The thing is, I’m not an “adventurous” eater. The “bizarre and weird” are foods that I’m familiar and comfortable with, food that I grew up eating.

By making a big deal out of someone’s culture and food, it reminds them that they’re culture is abnormal and doesn’t quite belong in this world.

4. Loving the Food, Not the People

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.

Folks might love Mexican food, but not care about different issues such as labor equity and immigration policy that impact members from that community.

There are also really hurtful stereotypes connected to food where people of color get reduced to the food they eat or are called things like smelly because of their food consumption.

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. We might not know how kung pao chicken also reflects a story about Chinese immigration or the complex colonial story behind curry and the homogenization of South Asian cultures.

5. Profiting from Oppression

More and more now, part of chefs’ culinary training also involves travel in order to learn about different cooking techniques and ingredients, and they’re opening up fancy restaurants that repurpose “cheap” eats from working class and poor communities that rely on affordable, local products and ingredients.

Food culture gets re-colonized by chefs seeking to make that “authentic” street food they tried more elegant. Often, these restaurants are inaccessible to the communities they’re appropriating from.

This is different from when members from that community repurpose their own traditional foods.

One of the questions that both chefs and diners should ask themselves is, who is laboring and profiting? Where are these recipes from?

Who is this cuisine profiting off, but not supporting – a group that is historically and currently oppressed?

Another problem is when ingredients get reappropriated. Corporations have now repackaged local food from different places in ways that make it no longer accessible to the local communities they’re from.

Quinoa, which is native to Bolivia is now too expensive for communities there. Last year, Whole Foods declared collard greens the “new kale.” Coconuts have now been packaged as high end, luxury water. Tofu, soy, and tempeh are now staples at organic, healthy food markets.

This is food gentrification, where communities can no longer afford their own cuisines and sustain their traditions.

***

Food is an important part of communities and cultures – the relationship between food and culture also means that food can be used as a tool of marginalization and oppression.

It’s okay if you love the taco truck outside of your workplace, love eating sushi, or enjoy trying out different recipes at home. I’m not against trying and cooking food outside your own culture – I love it, too.

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.


How do we go about atoning for our cultural evils? I've eaten so many different types of Asian foods and non-Mexican Latin American cuisines that I surely am imbalanced in my karmic standing. What about you? How guilty are you?

PROTIP: If you're a cishet white male, you are guilty.
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#3
Honestly? I can't wait until people stop having fun reposting some crazy lady's tumblr blog as something that more than 1 crazy cat lady in her basement ranting and raving for +1s and gold actually believes in.
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my mom and i went to a furry con and on the second day she said she didn't come and pay money to go see dumb shit.


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I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#4
Fuck authentic food, do you know there's a place in San Diego called Pokirrito that does sushi burritos? I'll appropriate one of those right into my fuckin mouth.
#5
Quote by H4T3BR33D3R
Honestly? I can't wait until people stop having fun reposting some crazy lady's tumblr blog as something that more than 1 crazy cat lady in her basement ranting and raving for +1s and gold actually believes in.


This is a real news outlet, hon.
Since the launch of its online magazine in June 2012 by Sandra Kim, Everyday Feminism has quickly become one of the most popular feminist digital media sites in the world, with over 4.5 million monthly visitors from over 150 countries. In the last year, over 30 million unique users have visited our site and our articles have been read over 60 million times.
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#6
Quote by zgr0826
This is a real news outlet, hon.
Read back the article you posted, and consider why it seems to contradict that last statement.
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#7


I mean holy hell look at that I'll leave eating the insects and grubs and other "authentic" shit to Anthony Bourdain GIMME SOME OF THAT POKIRRITO
Last edited by TheChaz at Nov 1, 2016,
#8
this is why I mock and belittle sjws so much.
It was my privilege
#9
Quote by slapsymcdougal
Read back the article you posted, and consider why it seems to contradict that last statement.


Murca is never wrong, you swine.
Quote by Axelfox
my mom and i went to a furry con and on the second day she said she didn't come and pay money to go see dumb shit.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#10
Quote by StewieSwan
this is why I mock and belittle sjws so much.

Toxic masculinity in post form.

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#11
"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."

You stupid cunt. I don't need to think about wage-slavery on railroads in the American west every time I enjoy some san bei ji. Dumbass bitch.
It was my privilege
#12
what happens is that food becomes the only identifier for certain places. Japan reduced to ramen and sushi, Mexico reduced to tacos and burritos, India reduced to curry, and so on.

complete bullshit.

People that actually believe shit like this have severe confirmation bias. If this is actually a super popular site with paid writers then it's highly likely that they've already covered all the real discrimination and oppression so they have to make up shit like this to have anything new to talk about.
#13
PC gone mad
But we little know until tried how much of the uncontrollable there is in us, urging across glaciers and torrents, and up dangerous heights, let the judgment forbid as it may.
#14
Quote by Dreadnought
PC gone mad


What if youre a Mac user like 3/4 of those SJW cucks?
Quote by Axelfox
my mom and i went to a furry con and on the second day she said she didn't come and pay money to go see dumb shit.


Quote by JustRooster
I incurred the wrath of the Association of White Knights. Specifically the Parent's Basement branch of service.
#15
I, a white British male with very very tenuous links to Italian ancestry, am currently cooking some Old El Paso enchiladas.

Fuck your appropriation, this shit's tasty.
My old signature was too long. Have a daisy.

#16
Quote by TheChaz


I mean holy hell look at that I'll leave eating the insects and grubs and other "authentic" shit to Anthony Bourdain GIMME SOME OF THAT POKIRRITO

Holy fuck


EDIT: I just ate but I would absolutely destroy that.
She was born in 1898 in a barn. She died on the thirty-seventh floor of a skyscraper. She's an astronaut.



Quote by matt bickerton
Doesn't at all surprise me why so many people here tend to think you're a douche
#17
Yeah wtf Chaz where can I get that
But we little know until tried how much of the uncontrollable there is in us, urging across glaciers and torrents, and up dangerous heights, let the judgment forbid as it may.
#18
Anyone who links food to cultural appropriation is a disgrace to humanity and should be imprisoned for an indefinite period.
I have nothing important to say
#20
Quote by Dreadnought
Yeah wtf Chaz where can I get that

San Francisco, where you can also get the kale and quinoa shake with organic bird shit straight from a local community garden that sells GMO free baby vaccines and that is only accessible by using an Uber bicycle service.

EDIT: Wait, I think Chaz moved out of SF. Still, though.
#21
Quote by chrismendiola
San Francisco, where you can also get the kale and quinoa shake with organic bird shit straight from a local community garden that sells GMO free baby vaccines and that is only accessible by using an Uber bicycle service.


I like this mockery ?
But we little know until tried how much of the uncontrollable there is in us, urging across glaciers and torrents, and up dangerous heights, let the judgment forbid as it may.
#24
Quote by RAB11
currently cooking some Old El Paso enchiladas... this shit's tasty.


That's objectively wrong. Old El Paso is gross. Make your own enchilada sauce and fillings.
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#25
Quote by zgr0826
That's objectively wrong. Old El Paso is gross. Make your own enchilada sauce and fillings.


cba hombre
My old signature was too long. Have a daisy.

#26
Quote by RAB11
cba hombre

>hombre

[TRIGGERING INTENSIFIES]
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#27
Quote by chrismendiola
San Francisco, where you can also get the kale and quinoa shake with organic bird shit straight from a local community garden that sells GMO free baby vaccines and that is only accessible by using an Uber bicycle service.

EDIT: Wait, I think Chaz moved out of SF. Still, though.

Hey man that shit's probiotic. How else am I gonna align my chakras?

Quote by Dreadnought
Yeah wtf Chaz where can I get that


SD only. Sorry.
#28
POKIRRITO CLASSIC
HANDLINE CAUGHT TUNA, crab meat, tamago, broccoli slaw, butter lettuce, lotus chips, masago, cilantro, shiso tempura flakes, golden ratio pokirrito sauce

The Lard signal has been activated
#29
okay most of this is dumb but i can easily picture a heavily overweight american couple ordering 'ass-car-goat' at champs elysees and then moaning to their friends back home about how rude french people are cuz the waiter couldn't take their disneyland level bullshit seriously, and i can kinda see their point

with that being said, people are oblivious about foreign culture all around, even outside muricah and i doubt creating a ritualised politesse around it will do anything more than mask it. i guess one positive way to look at it is that if people get their heads filled with hollywood clichés about other cultures, they probably don't have much room left in there for more direct forms of racism and prejudice.


Weird techno music suddenly crests the horizon.

#30
Quote by JamSessionFreak
i guess one positive way to look at it is that if people get their heads filled with hollywood clichés about other cultures, they probably don't have much room left in there for more direct forms of racism and prejudice.


But Hollywood is racist and problematic, hon.
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#31
gf and I often go to a tea-house and get #authentic teas like da hong pao, Ceylon, and gyokuro and don't even feel slightly bad about giving our money to the Chinese owners so they can travel the world and live in nice, big house
It was my privilege
#32
im not reading that shit

there's a place here called Jose's that's a family run grocery store/restaurant where a lot of the menu is in Spanish where they serve a lot of basic stuff like street tacos. Instead of ground beef, they serve beef cheek, beef tongue, and steak. plus chicken, chorizo and potatoes, and something else. I don't really care how "authentic" it is. The food is really good and it's cheaper than most similar places. We have a weird mix of American, Mexican, and Native American stuff going on around here.
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#33
bitch I go to the authentic place because all the takeaways and cheap "restraunts" aren't authentic lemme have something closer to the real thing

hop on your fix gear bike and scoot off

edit: also why is cultural appropriation, oppression etc a bad thing? people keep talking about oppression like it's this bad thing frankly it's a bit of a negative meme at this point why you mad
Last edited by Banjocal at Nov 1, 2016,
#34
Quote by StewieSwan
gf and I often go to a tea-house and get #authentic teas like da hong pao, Ceylon, and gyokuro and don't even feel slightly bad about giving our money to the Chinese owners so they can extract surplus value from workers who have no control over the production they create


Fixed, hon.
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Last edited by zgr0826 at Nov 1, 2016,
#35
Quote by zgr0826
Fixed, hon.


actually, they don't call it The People's Republic of Boulder for no reason
It was my privilege
#38
usually I never participate in any sort of voluntary censorship as a matter of principle but I might start hiding these threads.

I want a safe space from tumblr bloggers
#40
Quote by slipknot5678
usually I never participate in any sort of voluntary censorship as a matter of principle but I might start hiding these threads.

I want a safe space from tumblr bloggers

It's satire on my part, lad. Yknow, for laughs
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