At Yale, it was Halloween costumes. At the University of Missouri, it was a statue of Thomas Jefferson. At Oberlin College in Ohio, it's…the food.
"Students at an ultra-liberal Ohio college are in an uproar over the fried chicken, sushi and Vietnamese sandwiches served in the school cafeterias, complaining the dishes are 'insensitive' and 'culturally inappropriate.'
Gastronomically correct students at Oberlin College — alma mater of Lena Dunham — are filling the school newspaper with complaints and demanding meetings with campus dining officials and even the college president.
General Tso’s chicken was made with steamed chicken instead of fried — which is not authentically Chinese, and simply 'weird,' one student bellyached in the Oberlin Review.
Others were up in arms over banh mi Vietnamese sandwiches served with coleslaw instead of pickled vegetables, and on ciabatta bread, rather than the traditional French baguette….
Worse, the sushi rice was undercooked in a way that was, according to one student, 'disrespectful' of her culture. Tomoyo Joshi, a junior from Japan, was highly offended by this flagrant violation of her rice. 'If people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative,' she said.
Oberlin’s black student union joined in the fray this month by staging a protest outside Afrikan Heritage House, an on-campus dorm.
The cafeteria there wasn’t serving enough vegan and vegetarian options and had failed to make fried chicken a permanent feature on the Sunday night menu, the school newspaper reported.
Those students started a petition that also recommends the reduction of cream used in dishes, because 'black American food doesn’t have much cream in it,' according to the Review.
The Nevada-based Universal Society of Hinduism joined the food fight last week after students discovered that the traditional Indian dish, tandoori, contained beef.
'Consuming beef was considered sacrilegious among Hindus,' blasted society president Rajan Zed, the Chronical-Telegram reported."
I'm waiting for the students from the U.K. to complain that the mystery meat isn't authentically mysterious enough.
Lest you laugh–hey, haven't college students always complained about the dorm food?–these are Serious Charges:
"[Vietnamse student Diep] Nguyen added that Bon Appétit, the food service management company contracted by Oberlin College, has a history of blurring the line between culinary diversity and cultural appropriation by modifying the recipes without respect for certain Asian countries’ cuisines. This uninformed representation of cultural dishes has been noted by a multitude of students, many of who have expressed concern over the gross manipulation of traditional recipes….
'When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,' [Japanese student Tomoyo] Joshi said."
“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,” Joshi said. “So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.” – See more at: http://oberlinreview.org/9055/news/cds-appropriates-asian-dishes-students-say/#prettyPhoto
It's worth pointing out that some of the "authentic" ethnic dishes that the Oberlin activists say the food service has tampered with are "culturally appropriative" themselves. General Tso's chicken, for example, doesn't come from the Hunan province of China (where no one eats it–or has even heard of it) but from New York City, where a Hunan-born chef invented it in 1973, modifying a traditional Hunan dish by adding the sweet-and-sour sauce that Americans associate with Chinese restaurants.
Similarly, banh mi is actually a Vietnamese adaptation of the traditional French ham-and-cheese sandwich, introduced to Vietnam when the country was a French colony. The baguette is unknown in traditional Vietnames cuisine.
It seems to me that the main sin of the hapless Bon Appetit employees wasn't "cultural appropriation" but "Midwesternization": coleslaw instead of exotic pickles, and so forth.
But Oberlin being Oberlin–and colleges being colleges–these days, the Bon Appetit people will be undergoing the usual sensitivity training:
"[Dining services manager Michile] Gross said she is planning on setting up a meeting in upcoming weeks to discuss these issues.
'It’s important to us that students feel comfortable when they are here,' Gross said."
And making students fell "comfortable" by capitulating to their most laughable demands is what colleges do these days.
Gross said she is planning on setting up a meeting in upcoming weeks to discuss these issues.
“It’s important to us that students feel comfortable when they are here,” Gross said.
– See more at: http://oberlinreview.org/9055/news/cds-appropriates-asian-dishes-students-say/#prettyPhoto