Food and Culture: A Deeper Look at Appropriation


The blog post is published at:

In this post, a Civic Engagement member discusses her experience with the typical “lunchbox story” and the effects of the cultural appropriation of Vietnamese cuisine and dishes such as pho and banh mi. An excerpt of the post is included below:

This narrative is similar to many non-white ethnic groups. Many people from various backgrounds  have moved to a new country with nothing. Starting a business in the restaurant industry was feasible because cooking food from their home country was a skillset they knew and did well. However, it is more than just creating food to sustain life in a new country; the livelihood of many family owned restaurants holds an invaluable and sentimental sense of pride and joy. The food and preparation reminds them of home. Being able to get together and share a “family-style” meal brings warmth and a feeling of belonging. Being able to recreate and produce love for others is just as rewarding. Food brings us back to our roots and reminds us of our culturally rich background. These dishes play into our identity, so it hurts when a new restaurant moves into the neighborhood claiming to have an authentic menu when it should be labeled as a fusion restaurant. The new twist on recipes with non-traditional ingredients end up being something totally different than my grandmother’s dish. It’s authentic to the creator’s interpretation, but not authentic to the roots. David Chang, an Asian chef, exams the line between tradition and innovation with food in his Netflix series, “Ugly Delicious”. During a trip to New Orleans, he explores the evolution of boiling crawfish and what is considered appropriate and legitimate practices. The chef making the crawfish told him the way he’s preparing is a must because it’s tradition. Where does the line get drawn for putting a creative spin on dishes?


Posted on

March 1, 2019