• Julia Helton

Cultural Appropriation for $500 Alex


I see a lot of articles about cultural appropriation especially in food writing and I don’t get it. It’s my understanding that Alison Roman is guilty of posting recipes that need attribution but she doesn’t bother. It feels like it’s come to a point where white people can’t make dishes from another part of the globe! And that would be utter and complete bullshit.


White people love to cloak themselves in whiteness. We also have a history of simply taking what isn’t ours to take. Here’s where it may feel tricky to a white person in regards to food: say where you found this recipe, say who gave you the idea that you bounced off of to create your own recipe. There is nothing new under the sun. There are no new recipes in the same manner that there are no new stories. Cite your sources. Make sure you credit the people and or culture you based this on.


I like to travel. When I return a dish or two lands on my menu from whence I came. But I say - Thai spiced pork collar or Indian spiced oatmeal so when people ask I can tell them of what I learned during my culinary adventure someplace else. It’s not wrong to cook Korean food if you’re not Korean but we must do it with respect and with an acknowledgment of where we learned this cuisine. It’s when white chefs decide to “elevate” dishes from other cultures without looking at the fine dining scene in that culture that things go off the rails. Stealing is stealing. Thinking that white people are the only people capable of making a cuisine worth $25/ plate vs $9/ plate is some colonizer shit.


Some folx may say “well I don’t know where it came from'' yeah, but you didn’t pull it outta your ass. You did some kind of recipe research to get the idea. You can say “ I’m the bitch that didn’t follow the recipe. I subbed out half the ingredients. This is what I got.” And you’d be fine but say that out loud. Cultural appropriation is wholesale saying “I made this with no one's help.” And if that ain’t a lie I don’t know what is.