Oh the love. With every passing year, my love only grows deeper. All kinds of food; healthy, not-so-healthy, food I grew up eating, cuisines I have only recently discovered, street food, comfort food, gourmet food, all of the food. I love sharing intimate meals with my family and friends and I love giant potlucks. I love going for a casual cheeseburger and I cherish special meals at top restaurants. In fact, as my palate expands I find it increasingly hard to keep my waistline from expanding right along with it!
Living in Atlanta, I am so blessed to eat food from all over the world. Think up any craveable cuisine and you can bet we have got it represented here! Some of my sweetest memories include friends sharing their culture over the table. There’s something very special about learning and experiencing the very thing that sustains a person. Every old adage about breaking bread and bringing people together is true. Think about how many parables center around meals and celebrations. All over the globe, traditions are focused on food. People intersect at the table and it is powerful.
Bridge Building With Food
Sharing food is a fun and natural way to build bridges. Trying new cuisines with new friends allows you to build upon shared experiences and can also set people at ease. After all, many people would rather discuss pie than the latest political uproar! It gives us the chance to relax with one another in the midst of nurturing intentional relationships that, in this arena, can be intense.
So partake! Go to new restaurants outside your norm, buy cuisine/culture specific cookbooks written by people who actually represent those cultures, and hold potlucks (everyone’s fav). Host recipe and cookie exchanges where each guests can learn and try out new recipes for themselves. Find cooking classes taught by people who are experts in cooking their own ethnic food. And remember, they might not have the title “chef” but that is by no means an indication of a lesser talent. All of these are also ways to support minority businesses and enterprises.
Widen Your Circle of Influence. Open up your library, podcast lists, and subscriptions to food writers, bloggers, and podcasters of color! Subscribe, read, and listen to voices that might not be considered “authorities” on food. Building bridges and broadening your horizons is certainly not limited to history, theology and politics! Learning about food is learning about people.
An important thing to remember, though, as you venture out into the deliciousness out there. Think to yourself appreciation over appropriation. Learn about the people behind the food. Why do they use the ingredients they use? Why do they use the techniques they do? How do they master their art? Be inquisitive and respectful. I grew up with a rule that whenever I was a guest at someone’s house or someone had taken me out for a meal, I ate whatever it was that was prepared for me. Praise God there is literally no food I have ever disliked, so this was always a pleasant thing for me. BUT I know not everyone is like that. Heck, I have relatives who don’t eat tomatoes! Tomatoes! Crazy. You do not have to love everything you taste, but love what is behind it. Appreciate and experience it fully.
As you learn more and more about all types of food, be conscious of how much cuisines are appropriated by majority culture. I know this can be a nuanced thing, but go with your gut. If something makes something small or less than or a commodity, stay away. Support local and small restaurants when possible. Food trucks are also a great option!
Finding cookbooks written by chefs and cooks representing their culture is a great (and simple) way to appreciate and learn. These cookbooks offer a look into the culture itself as well as sharing the techniques, history, and regional ingredients. They are rich with information along with great recipes! Also, cooking theory and technique cookbooks written by minority experts are key because they are showcasing the idea that great chefs do NOT have to be white. This is how we begin to break down white supremacy- we challenge and change the false narrative that white chef = expert. Here is a list of some examples:
- New American Table
- The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
- The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science
- Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking
- Nopalito: A Mexican Kitchen
- 101 Asian Dishes You Need to Cook Before You Die: Discover a New World of Flavors in Authentic Recipes
- Maangchi’s Real Korean Cooking: Authentic Dishes for the Home Cook
- Hibiscus: Discover Fresh Flavours from West Africa with the Observer Rising Star of Food 2017
- The Palestinian Table
- Our Syria: Recipes from Home
- The Indian Cooking Course: Techniques – Masterclasses – Ingredients – 300 Recipes
- Brazilian Food
- Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
Read further on Cultural Appropriation in these articles:
When Chefs Become Famous Cooking Other Cultures’ Food
Roundtable: Fixing Food Media’s White Supremacy Problem
Introduction to Cultural Appropriation
[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://lh3.googleusercontent.com/zbTKDykD3OhT93rTgCtVASkJet-rNZl0WIbU00-BooxLJlG0mvJvwgzwQGe_AaulnjfagtCbAJW951lp576mSzKF05Zw6YuHSSXf8khd8OgFQgZEXhwBGIJXtgXdf2tl57YSGkLrw9N_Yi9-GriWQw5f2lEvl9NmYHl5KliQn9kbV-47ptkVt8qBs0oY8EzIyRUcRNuAVNbBTCXXAGVcmYIS7LhpwE62a7lWV-w2VEEz1cSnCrlQ1kg6-0Vki22kUJhVcK_AWRDDYlRlX7VxHNE7z3Gm8Fb-NHXBfvFMyPcQihEIGGmJdrnjfBkFb3T8diyE1i-g2SX7C8GtGtIc5gez0A9EEbG_LL2Pv1eFURdZ348BmhPwEpC6zQscXank6h-L6E6OKLevbGKkXEpYMgQXGklWL65PraqHHDrc2Yi3MuxPMjxbhHs_0nEDZH5XeGR3ZYSpni0GVjOdGikWQ3ATm-WIoc7AzrFP34CGi8EEk9Luqv_gTlUXemaLmkah1VbfFoU6MivWjx2hW5O5ME-oljXlLRhjLRDV1WCR-yuLSIo2SSREPpx0v0nAXRc0moFrsVNS96EqnSPu=w1240-h595[/author_image] [author_info]Claire lives in Atlanta with her husband and two young sons. She loves people, food, pretending to be fit, writing, and fostering community. Among other passions, being a bridge-builder is at the top of the list.[/author_info] [/author] Food
This is an interesting subject, but I wish you spent more time clarifying what you mean by appropriating ethnic foods; I don’t think I understand how a cuisine is appropriated, though I do understand and recognize the larger idea of cultural appropriation. Could you speak more to what that would look like in the case of food? Thanks!