OK, you're not supposed to refer to that taco or dim sum dumpling as "ethnic food." It's "immigrant food"–please!
And now, here's an even more elaborate list of protocols from Everyday Feminist's Rachel Kuo for eating Mexican or Chinese that will help you avoid the dreaded sin of "cultural appropriation".
And what is "cultural appropriation" you might ask? She explains:
Cultural appropriation is when members of a dominant culture adopt parts of another culture from people that they’ve also systematically oppressed. The dominant culture can try the food and love the food without ever having to experience oppression because of their consumption.
With food, it isn’t just eating food from someone else’s culture. It might not be appropriation if you’re White and you love eating dumplings and hand pulled noodles. Enjoying food from another culture is perfectly fine.
But, food is appropriated when people from the dominant culture – in the case of the US, white folks – start to fetishize or commercialize it, and when they hoard access to that particular food.
I think that means "Don't hog the sashimi," but it probably means something Marxist.
Here are some of the rules:
Wanting Adventure Points for Eating Food
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.
Well, you won't catch me trying chicken feet!
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….
That means charging $49.99 for a plate of chicken feet at a fancy hipster restaurant.
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.
I'm OK on that one Rachel, since I can't stand either quinoa or tofu. You'd have to drop a coconut on my head before I'd order either one to go with my chicken feet.
It beats me why the politically correct are so hell-bent on making people feel guilty for putting some money into the pockets of the people who grow and cook delicious ethnic–oops, I mean "immigrant" eats. But pleasurable exchange is never one of the goals of the perpetually scolding politically correct.