Halloween Costumes, Cultural Appropriation, and Racism.


So is Europe. Eaten at any “authentic European eateries” lately?

And, yes, I agree that the lack of Asian chefs at this place isn’t an issue.


Phillips European Restaurant

26 Corporate Woods, Rochester, NY 14623
(585) 272-9910 https://g.co/kgs/eNxZLr

Just to be clear, “European restaurants” is in fact a category of restaurants in most guides.


Okay. I’m still calling it lazy and bullshit. “European Restaurant” doesn’t tell me shit except I guess I won’t find chow mein or burritos there. Their menu is a jumble of stuff. I’m sure it’s good tasting, but it’s a dumb way to shorthand what you serve.

“Asian Eatery” could be what? Chinese? Japanese? Korean? Thai? I’m sure to lots of rubes that’s a big serving of “Who cares? It’s all noodles and rice, right?” but I’m telling you that it’s kind of insulting to lump it all together like that.

And yes, I understand that this “Asian” restaurant category has been traditionally okay. It wasn’t too long ago that “Oriental Food” was okay too.


If i had to guess, it’d be a place that served dishes from all over Asia. So things like sushi, probably some Chinese dishes, some Thai, maybe Korean.

Haven’t you ever been to a place that mixed dishes from different things of Asia? It’s pretty common these days.


Has the internet sunken to such a low that we’re actually getting outraged about a non-Asian person opening an “Asian” restaurant now? It’s not cultural appropriation or racist. Jesus, can we just let this one go?

Wait a sec. We’re supposed to care what the NY Post or Fox News says about this? They list 4 tweets.


Pan-Asian restaurants are very common.

Appropriation complaints around food is dumb as fuck. I’ve never met a Malaysian that isn’t anything other than delighted non-Malays are cooking, sharing or promoting Malaysian food. You get the odd outrage like John Torodes crispy rendang comments on Masterchef (The British High Commissioner was still apologising for that a year later) but I noticed on /r/Malaysia that you can now buy Crispy Rendang Chicken at some food stalls so I think it worked out alright in the end.

BTW we have some shit Malay restaurants in London and I know white chefs who could cook it much better. Probably not to the standard of my faves, but I was given a laksa in Westfield Stratford in a Malay place that was less food and more of an insult to my grannies dead soul.

If I want to open a Peruvian restaurant, or French bistro or an Aussie Pan-Asian fusion place I’m going to do it and no white guy is going to stop me.


I used to eat at a place called ‘The Golden Cuisine of Southern Europe.’ And continental cuisine has been a thing for decades.



I’m sorry, this is all I can think of.


Not to sound completely racist, but being frank here. Most of the cuisine you eat in the U.S. was cooked by very skilled latino/latina line cooks and sous chefs.


The very notion of “cultural appropriation” is just dumb as shit.

You do not own your culture. Everyone is allowed to adopt whatever parts they want, in literally any way they feel like it. They can wear clothes from your culture. They can eat food from your culture. They can do literally anything they want.

That’s how culture fucking works.

Human society has localized traits that get shared and blended over time through interaction.

“Cultural appropriation” is just a bullshit thing that folks invented so they could bitch about yet another thing which does not matter at all.


Maybe not European Food, but there are Western eateries in China. I never even know it was a thing.

Sometimes customers will give Zhang a small tip, which is not customary in China. There are other perks to the job.

“The best thing happened at a Western restaurant,” Zhang said. “I picked up an order at 10:30 p.m. and the boss had made extra food. He gave it to me for free. That order probably costs a lot, maybe about $10. It was very delicious. Grilled chicken and rice. That was my first proper Western meal.”


It’s certainly possible to mock or disrespect a culture. It’s possible to do that entirely accidentally, it’s possible to do that maliciously and hatefully, and anywhere in between.

The idea of cultural appropriation is probably useless as we’ve come to understand it, because it’s easy to sensationalize (also both intentionally and unintentionally) those offenses, and even misinterpret or demonize valid, harmless, or positive expressions of something we’ve enshrined as “cultural”. And in the case of actual offenses, instead of measuring them and taking the appropriate response (education, scolding, punishment, laughter, whatever), the worst reactionary impulses only zero in on the fact that the problem was of a cultural nature in some way, all nuance is lost, and everything is escalated to unforgivable hate crimes, or whatever.

And then, as you’re demonstrating, for some people they will see the absurdity in that extreme and adopt the opposite extreme, and now everyone’s just mad.

So yeah, I see claims of “cultural appropriation” in the media and I’m immediately skeptical, but not because the “very notion” of it is bullshit. Moreso that we’ve done a terrible job dealing with that theoretical notion of cultural appropriation when it comes to actually dealing with the world.


Puerto Rican if Bourdains (RIP) books are anything to go by


So can’t we ditch the concept of “cultural appropriation” but keep the concept of actions that mock or disrespect people of a particular culture?


For me, the issue arises when someone says, “you aren’t a member of my culture, so you can’t adopt elements of it.”

But even to the lesser degree of, “you aren’t a member of my culture, and you aren’t fully respecting it when adopting elements.”

Adoption of aspects of a culture do not require “full respect”. I can wear clothes from your culture without understanding, or even caring about at all, what the “significance” may be in your culture for those things. You don’t own those things. No one does.


Most of the Ecuadorians who run good restaurants down here learned their trade cooking in restaurants in NYC.


One of my favorite places that serves food that I never ate at was a stall in a hawker center near my uncle’s place in Singapore. In fact, I never actually saw it open but I did often stop to marvel at its menu, complete with glossy color photos, of Western cuisine. The menu item that amused me the most was their “Scissor Salad”. The croutons looked expertly toasted and the shaved parmesan certainly added a piquant touch, I’m sure. I just hope they don’t use too much anchovy in their “Scissor” dressing.


Yeah, that’s what I’m saying. And maybe I’m overreacting to Timex’s post, but I was trying to clarify that of course it’s possible to offend or otherwise wrong someone or a group by the way you interact with elements of culture. I didn’t want Timex throwing out that possibility entirely in calling out all the ways we mishandle situations under the banner of fighting anything that fits into cultural appropriation as a buzzword.

Yeah I broadly agree with your points there, but I think it would be wrong to believe there isn’t still a context where what you’re doing might be a Bad Idea. I think it’s useless—at best—to have the label of cultural appropriation, but there’s room for case by case responses just like, you know, how every decision we make in our daily lives could be a mistake, and we realize (or don’t) what we’re doing and there are consequences (or not) and corrections (or not) without necessitating a buzzword to describe each and every category of action we take.


FWIW, there’s also a fairly strong economic angle to the cultural appropriation issue, vis a vis restaurants.

There’s a finite amount of dining dollars to be spent, overall. If you’re a member of a relatively privileged, well-established class, your capacity to drive after these dollars is generally higher. If you’re a well-to-do white guy, you’re more likely to get loans, get press, have the kinds of connections you need to leverage to succeed. When you’re using all of that to serve up a culture’s cuisine, and muscling out actual members of that culture who are traditionally disadvantaged, it can feel unseemly, or at least unsporting.

It’s less of an issue with Asian cuisine in the west, insofar as many Asian subgroups have incorporated more fully into society, seen greater economic success, face fewer barriers to entry, but even there, as I’m sure members like Telefrog can tell us, there’s still a lot of racist shit they’ve got to wade through en route to their “de facto second place race America 2019!” award.

But overall, say, you’re a poor African immigrant trying to climb up over the mountain of crap that comes with being, well, a poor African immigrant, plus all of America’s baggage with black folks in general, and you wanna get going in the restaurant business. But so does Jim Whiteguy, who’s worth 3000x you, knows everyone in the local community already, and, you know, can walk down the street without getting harassed by cops. Guess who probably wins out, in the end?

And hey, I get it, entrepreneurship sucks and most people fail and having money is always an advantage. But we put a lot of money in trying to rebalance things, giving grants to POC and women starting businesses, plus other social support structures more broadly, because it just so happens that most of the folks with money and advantages all sorta look the same from a distance. . . so clearly, on some level, society recognizes there’s an imbalance there that we can work toward fixing, whether over the long or short term, to produce a future where anyone with a great talent in the kitchen’s got solid odds of making it.

On the other hand, targeting the kinds of high end customers that Ramsay usually does–does that make this any different? Would it be worse if Ramsay opened a fleet of gourmet food carts and flooded the downtowns of every major city in the UK with them, directly competing against actual immigrant- or at least culture-member-owned businesses at the level they’re breaking into the market? Is the fact that the percentage of “rich white guy”-owned businesses at the absolute highest echelons of the culinary market is even higher than in the midrange also a problem worth tackling?

Anyway, this is a very long and rambling and not well-argued post to basically say, “Hey, if a rich old white dude uses his massive sums of money to outcompete a disadvantaged minority in opening a restaurant dedicated to cuisine to that minority’s culture, do we move beyond fairly theoretical discussions of respect into more concrete discussions of economic grievance?”


That is exactly what I was referencing. Such a great read.