I was browsing channels Friday evening after being bored to even check on Facebook when I passed by BBC. I thought it was showing a cooking segment because some old white lady was adding wine to something. Apparently, there now exists the concept of food racism. There’s a constant backlash of chefs and cooks on social media as well as food establishments not being politically correct or authentic. Some notable examples were the criticism over Jamie Oliver’s Paella (check the comments), the backlash on one Bon Appetit video saying that Pho is the “new Ramen”, as well as the not-so-pleased reaction from Filipinos after Andrew Zimmern posted a recipe of Crispy Garlic Short Ribs with chopsticks on the side (no, but really, adobo-style ribs with chopsticks).
I can understand that people are protective over their culture and the authenticity of things , but I think it’s a bit too much to call it “racism” when they don’t mean it on purpose. I honestly think, as a Filipino, that it’s sacrilege to eat Filipino food with chopsticks when we don’t really use chopsticks. Eat those ribs with your hands, Zimmern! (*Insert mock fist-shake here.*) Then again, I used to eat French Fries (which is Belgian, by the way) with banana ketchup, eat pansit or whatever I feel like with chopsticks, and eat Jolly Spaghetti that has shit tons of sugar and banana ketchup. Isn’t it pretty hypocritical of us to be eating things in a way that is different from how it was originally created?
I guess what we all should do before we stretch our collective knuckles is to be critical of our very own reactions. Did the person claim that the recipe is authentic? Or is it a fusion or inspired by the flavors from a certain cuisine? As an aspiring cook, I am guilty of not adding red wine to my Beef Ragu as well as not using Pine nuts for Pesto. Why? I don’t have those easily available. I might share the recipe of what exactly I did that still came out good, but I will never claim that my version is the authentic one. I say we should only castrate someone in a figurative manner only if they brag that what they did is “traditional” but isn’t.
Imagine if social media existed hundreds of years ago. The Chinese people would definitely be freaking upset over the fact that Italians added tomatoes and green, oily slush on their noodles (a historical fact that is still being debated on), or that their rice is being cooked with saffron. Indian people would probably be in hysterics that Japanese people now have curry cubes. Turkish people would laugh at you for having that sugar-laden froyo packed with fruits and diabeetus. But in all seriousness, globalization has caused cuisines to be shared among cultures and have another version. People should realize that what they’re claiming is theirs must have origins from elsewhere, or that the food they make may have been brought over to another country and was evolved to make up for some ingredients not being easily available and to suite their own taste.
You know what’s funny? Filipinos like posting angry comments saying, “that’s not how we make spaghetti! You don’t add bell peppers and mushrooms to that! You should also add banana ketchup!”. Then, Italians would cry foul that Filipinos ruined spaghetti with sugar, processed cheese and hotdogs. Guess what, guys? Shut up and let people eat spaghetti however they want!
Let me say it again: Unless someone say “hey, you should only cook this dish the way I listed it down or shown you as this is authentic” (or like how BA made a video on how to eat Pho by a white guy), then don’t be a jerk. I’m looking at you, Italians.