“May the force be with you”

Fun History Fact: The overwhelming majority of cowboys in the U.S. were Indigenous, Black, and/or Mexican persons. The omnipresent white cowboy is a Hollywood studio concoction meant to uphold the mythology of white masculinity.

Using Instagram for a class was definitely a new experience for me. This semester I used WordPress for three of my classes so it was much easier for me to get used to how this website works. In the Spring of 2017, I was in Rome where I took an Italian food class. Except, in that class, we uploaded our pictures to Twitter with short sentences. So Instagram was new territory for me in that aspect. I feel that Instagram can be a great way to come together as a community. To share food pictures doesn’t have to look pretentious. It can be a way to share an experience. To enjoy the fact that other people can enjoy the food from your culture in such a personal way.

This class has been a great learning experience for me. I feel that I can look around my neighborhood with a newfound appreciation. I like to think back to my assignment where I wrote about appropriation. My absolute favorite quotes were from Ruth Tam where she says,

“It all went back to giving acknowledgment to the cultures and techniques chefs source their food from.”

“If you take food and you say, ‘Here it is, this is all my work,’ and you don’t explain where you got it from or what techniques are being used, then it verges on cultural appropriation — especially if you get capital for that,”

She continued on to say, “If you get funding for the restaurant if you get press for that restaurant and if you get attention because you happen to be someone who’s outside of that culture, then it verges on cultural appropriation.”

I LOVE these quotes so much because it perfectly explains appropriation. With how things have been going since November 2016 I feel this class is so extremely important.

I’m very interested with the topic of appropriation and so I went back to my appropriation post to read Ruth Tam’s article “How it feels when white people shame your culture’s food — then make it trendy”

That is the big thing with food that white people suddenly deem acceptable or trendy. One of the earliest memories I have of something like this is in My Big Fat Greek Wedding (0:34-0:50). The girls make fun of Nia and her traditional Greek food from home. I’ll bet later on those same girls would go out to eat Greek food because it was hip or trendy. The way people treat others for enjoying the food from their own culture is just so disgusting. It’s behavior that, I believe, is taught at home. Such ignorance. Going back to Ruth and her article, I like how she approached the subject of shame.

“My hunger for my family’s food was overpowered by my desire to fit in, so I minimized Chinese food’s role in my life and learned to make pasta instead. Little did I know that Americans would come to embrace the dishes and cooking styles that once mortified me. The Cantonese foods of my childhood have reappeared in trendy restaurants that fill their menus with perfectly plated fine-dining versions of our traditional cuisine. In some cases, this shift has been heartening. But in too many others, the trend has reduced staples of our culture to fleeting fetishes.”

I love the reference to Fresh Off the Boat because it is one of my favorite shows.

When young Eddie takes a carton of noodles out of his lunchbox, his white classmates react with disgust: “Ying Ming’s eating worms! Dude, that smells nasty!” Back at home, Eddie demands his parents start packing him “white people lunch.”

It must be jarring to see food that you were mocked for eating is now marked up super high at trendy New York City restaurants.

“The lengths to which immigrant families have gone to hide the way we feed ourselves break my heart. But something has changed. In cities big and small, Asian dishes and flavors have become popular among foodies at chic eateries. Foods that were once considered too strong, too spicy, too smelly or too obviously-from-an-animal for my white friends are now on Restaurant Week menus nationwide.”

One of my absolute favorite quotes is when she writes (and does not hold back):

“In the United States, immigrant food is often treated like discount tourism — a cheap means for foodies to feel worldly without leaving the comfort of their neighborhood — or high-minded fusion — a stylish way for American chefs to use other cultures’ cuisines to reap profit. The dishes of America’s recent immigrants have become check marks on a cultural scavenger hunt for society’s elite.”

She does not say that people cannot enjoy food from her culture. Far from it. But, if people are going to try food from her culture they should respect it and understand the line between appropriation and appreciation.

“This cultural appropriation stings because the same dishes hyped as “authentic” on trendy menus were scorned when cooked in the homes of the immigrants who brought them here. Fashionable food from foreign cultures may satisfy a temporary hunger, but if you’re trying it for shallow reasons, you’ll be culturally unfulfilled in the long run.”

 

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