Cultural Appropriation and Authenticity… driving the food world crazy!

I’ve noticed lately the cultural appropriation wars heating up. Food, art and jazz are just a few of the areas where we are seeing this.

Year ago I was in Westwood for a meeting. There was a small Japanese Restaurant there that by reputation, had good teriyaki bowls. That’s where we decided to meet. It was a great lunch and we soon found ourselves talking to the cooks, all of them Mexican.

More recently I was in Portland, Oregon [ground zero in the food wars right now] visiting friends. His favorite place to go was this place he called Kogi’s. We sat at the counter talking with the sushi chef for awhile. Then my buddy shared that I go to Oaxaca and as it turned out, the guy making our sushi was from Tlacolula, just a few miles east of Oaxaca City.

The central question being asked is this… Is it alright for someone to “profit” by creating something from another culture and calling it authentic. Or is it better to use Iliana De la Vega’s understanding and talk about the traditional flavors of a given region?

Just to get you up to speed, here’s a few articles to peruse…

Kooks Burritos in Portland closes…

White Owned Restaurants Shamed for Serving Ethnic Foods… 

Can you profit from cooking other peoples foods?

Hunting down “authentic” ethnic food..

Gustavo Arellano weighs in…

Crossing the line, a BBC point of view…

“The Ethnic Restaurateur”… a must read book dealing with “Ethnic” food…


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