So, I recently had checked my other Twitter account (One for the blog, one for the youtube/vid.me, and that is because mixing games and politics is like trying to make the greatest career poison of them all and it took me a while to even learn that.) Anyway, I got a message from someone asking to clarify why Kooks Burrito closing down is not cultural appropriation, and I thought to myself.
“You know I should make a better more defined response.”
So I did. That would be the following and to the two that messaged me I do apologize for the wait, you most likely understand how time can get away from people. This was going to be my direct message to them, but this works just as well.
Why do I think this is wrong to describe the #KooksBurritos case as an example of appropriation?. I would love to answer that, and sorry about taking so much time I do some other things on the side and I am sure we have all had the moment as content creators of trying to fit 36 hours worth of stuff to do in 24 real time.
So why do I think this is wrong? The short version is in cooking you cannot have just one item and pick it to be cultural appropriation despite what everyone would like to feel good about. Let us say for a moment that you cannot culturally appropriate in food. The French method which is one used by most of the world especially in hotels, resorts and anything luxury is gone. That is now gone so you lose most of your culinary schools and most higher quality restaurants especially ones that use the french brigade system. Wolgang Puck, Gordon Ramsey, David Chang are all people were taught by these methods so we have to remove all their work off the table. Now continuing to the restaurants the entire idea of neo-cuisine or fusion cuisine is all gone because now those ingredients cannot be used and made the stars in dishes because those ingredients are the cornerstones of cultural cuisines in different areas.
Let us move to different diets where the idea of Halal or Kosher is a diet based off of culture, and anyone selling specifically to those who are not of that culture themselves because in many places there is not enough of a consumer base to hold those companies up. On the chance they can get by, there will not be a lot there and no room to grow because if they try making different products then they are using something another culture built. Outside of major urban hubs or very populated suburbs there would be a ghost town consisting of what could have been in the variety of food stores which is sad because learning new ingredients for a cook is like getting a new I-phone for many people not because it is something shiny but because it is another tool in the arsenal to make great food.
So after removing restaurants and different diets let us go to the ingredients. Soy sauce was a Japanese ingredient. Alfredo sauce is an American sauce. Corn tortillas are Mexican, but flour ones are American. Pulling all these ingredients so only the people of those cultures can only use theirs would be stifling in both food creating very little possibility for evolution because everything tastes the same for the peoples of those cultures to their own menus. Where do you end it? Who gets salt? Who gets Pepper? Who gets Olive Oil?
Cultural appropriation if it stands in food would remove ingredients from kitchens, techniques from the chefs, remove systems of profitability from Gaza to Baja and would overall make a lot of people’s lives much worse despite all cultures being appropriated.
This is not the case here. In case of cultural appropriation not only would it be more of a sweeping issue across the board and a single removal of a burrito shop only shows that either A. The shop just could not hack it as a business and failed as businesses, unfortunately do sometimes or B. The people claiming this to be Cultural Appropriation have no ideas how culture or the act of profiting from something actually works. To me if this was closed because people cannot handle other people learning and trying to improve a process from someone else’s culture than I would love to see these people go to the patent office and remove every patent by a first generation citizen because the patent laws here are definitely a part of American culture and the act of allowing the patent allows some to make billions.
To claim what happened is Cultural Appropriation is in insult to those who love to cook, those who like to eat, and those who use specific diets and ingredients the world over. Some of the people say that the owners did something nefarious like look in windows to see tortillas being made. I don’t know if this is the case or not and I am not going to pretend I do, but what I do know is that corn tortillas and the way to make it is not knowledge written down secretly and stuck in a file folder deep in the bowels of the Mexico City. It is common knowledge, and often times people who go to these cultures to learn about the food are often bringing the products of that knowledge to people, some of which have never had it before. You take away a spotlight on the culture when you are trying to back cultural appropriation in any form and all it does is making it less profitable for everyone and overall just make yourself look like you need a good cry in the corner.
You want to know what this has done, there are cooks now wondering if they should cook in that city because of this. Not because there is not profits to be made but is trouble really worth it. It has illuminated a subsection of people to be whiny, sniveling spineless people with no knowledge how food or cooking works. If you do not like a place then do not go, but do not under any circumstances believe that we don’t have the right to make that decision for ourselves. Portland has been a food scene in that has been a hidden treasure and this has made for what I think are some cracks in the armor. If you want to use cultural appropriation then do it right and show you mean business or shut up and learn about the systems at hand before making claims because the hurt your feelings. Kooks Burrito closed, and my research on it has not proven it one way that people who claimed it as a victory for the dullards spouting large words they do not understand actually caused it or if it just was not making money and failed as a business in either case is not Cultural Appropriation.
(Sorry, about the wait, I am sure everyone knows that trying to make content can be a taxing on time and I actually do it on a couple different places so I try to keep the plates spinning so to speak and sometimes I miss one.)