This Post is Not About Zucchini
This started out as a rant, but quickly dissolved into something else- a ramble maybe? I edited out most of my ranting, but, I hope the ramble gets people thinking and talking. It is a bit of a diversion from what I usually post, but it is something I feel I need to say.
There has been much chatter in the media lately about cultural appropriation. If you type this term into your favorite search engine you will find many people, some of whom are very angry, detailing what this term means and why it is a bad thing. (Be forewarned if you try this- not everyone who is angry is justifiably angry. Not everyone who is justifiably angry is smart.) I read a number of the articles that popped up when I searched for this term. They talked about clothing, hair styles, music, privilege, mythology, spirituality, jewelry, and slang. Evidently there is a line, in an undisclosed location, where appreciation of another culture turns into appropriation.
None of the sites, articles or pages I read mentioned food. I have come to realize that culturally significant foods are generally perceived as appreciated, not appropriated, when they are replicated. I have never been treated with contempt at a Korean market. Nobody complains that I am appropriating garam masala when I shop at an Indian market. On the contrary, the staff members are usually very happy to share their food culture with me. This, I believe is where intercultural understanding begins. When I know what staples sustain you, what tastes comfort you, and what smells remind you of your grandmother’s house I can truly appreciate who you are. You, an individual human being who just happens to have a different experience on this little blue marble of a planet than I do.
I understand that co-opting elements of a culture that is not natively yours can ruffle some feathers, and may lead to some anger. However, before getting bent out of shape by that member of the ignorant otherhood (or whatever you want to call them), try offering them a slice, a glass, or a ladle of something your ancestors ate. They might just offer you something tasty in return. Then you can both stop being angry, and both be a little less ignorant. Give it a try.