(p. A15) People are mourning celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain all over the world–from Kurdistan to South Africa, from Gaza to Mexico. That may surprise American social-justice warriors who have turned food into a battlefield for what they call “cultural appropriation.”
“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people,” an Oberlin College student wrote last year, “you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture. So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.” This was prompted by a dining-hall menu that included sushi and banh mi. Celebrity alumna Lena Dunham weighed in on the side of the social-justice warriors.
. . .
Bourdain was a frequent target of similar criticism. When he declared Filipino food the next big thing, a writer for London’s Independent newspaper complained that his “well-meaning” comments were “the latest from a Western (usually white) celebrity chef or food critic to take a once scoffed at cuisine, legitimize it and call it a trend.”
Bourdain took it in stride. Asked on his CNN show, “Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown,” what he thought about culinary cultural appropriation, he said: “Look, the story of food is the story of appropriation, of invasion and mixed marriages and war and, you know . . . it constantly changes. You know, what’s authentic anyway?”
. . .
When Bourdain took us to places like Libya and Venezuela and West Virginia, he let the locals shine. His vocation was about more than food. It was about people–understanding their cultures and their lives, lifting them up and making their dishes.
For the full commentary, see:
Elisha Maldonado. “Bourdain vs. the Social-Justice Warriors; The celebrity chef scoffed at the notion of opposing ‘cultural appropriation.'” The Wall Street Journal (Tuesday, June 12, 2018): A15.
(Note: ellipses added.)
(Note: the online version of the commentary has the date June 11, 2018.)