After my taco crawl blog last week, I got into a conversation with a few people about cultural appropriation. I usually stay away from anything that may be considered a “hot topic” but I felt that this particular cultural guardian that I spoke to needed to understand the difference between “appropriation” and “appreciation.”
If you hadn’t heard the term, Cultural appropriation is simply stated as the adoption of one culture being used by member of another culture. It can be anything from music, clothing, language, etc. For the sake of Felt Like a Foodie, I’ll stick to how it is being talked about in the food world.
In the conversations I’ve heard, cultural appropriation has a bad connotation to it. It has come to mean using items (in this case food, ingredients or meal preparations) in your own way and not respecting or honoring where those concepts come from.
I can see how this has become a confusing topic for a lot of people. I have always lived thinking the world is a melting pot of people. People have always been crossing borders, sailing across oceans or flying over oceans to start new lives. With these transitions, they bring with their heritage and love of who they are in this world. It is something that makes a person proud and at times protective how their country is viewed.
I see this in every food I order whether it is French, Italian, Japanese, Chinese or Polish. If you know food history, odds are the concept came from somewhere else….especially if you live here in the United States of America. Dishes in recipes are pulled from a chef’s experience with an Italian grandma cooking dinner on a Sunday afternoon, a family trip where you tried a dish you have never tasted before or even hanging out with people of another nationality as they share a family meal.
When these menus are designed or restaurants are conceptualized, the goal is to make people eat outside of the box and gain a new experience. With these meals, a diner can gain a thoughtful respect for a culture or how nationalities are so similar in how they cultivate food. It isn’t just the visualization of the pretty plate….it is about the appreciation of how far a dish has come, the battles it took to save it and the people who keep it alive in any way they can.
With all this said, I do hope conversations about cultural
appropriation appreciation will make people engage more with each other in a positive way. Understand which items are considered artifacts and off limits and learn to pay homage to the ancestry, artistry and ideas that may not be on your own family tree.
If I had insulted anyone by doing a crawl for Cinco de Mayo, I do apologize. I was trying to spotlight how wonderfully our community has grown and the many opportunities to try different regions views of tacos.
My original recipe for today was for an American Southwestern soup that would use up leftover taco ingredients you may have had in your house. I wasn’t sure if I was going to post it especially because the concept came more from efficiency not diversity. But then I told shared it with a few online friends and no one cared about the cultural ramifications of making such a simple soup. The biggest concern was for me to at least acknowledge the fact that I love the spice, brightness and depth that comes with Mexican and South West inspired food. It is an amazing and delicate balance that I hope to learn more about over the years and I hope I can share my Italian/Lithuanian/Austrian/(I’m not sure what the rest of me is) view of it all.
I like food…and I sure do appreciate the opportunity to expand my knowledge.
2 chicken breast, pounded to about 1 inch sprinkled with any favorite southwest blend, sear for 3 minutes per side and place in 325 oven for 15 minutes. Shred when done.
1 onion, diced
1 red pepper, diced
2 zucchini, diced
½ cup of corn
1 16-ounce jar of Salsa Verde
3 cups of chicken broth
1 can of diced fire roasted tomatoes
½ cup cooked long grained rice (whenever you cook rice…make extra and pop it in the freezer so you have it available for recipes like this.)
Garnish: Tortilla strips, fresh avocado, cilantro
Oven 325, prepare a small baking dish.
In a 5 quart Dutch oven, heat a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat.
Sear the chicken on both sides (about 2-3 minutes per side)
Set in baking dish and put in oven for about 15-20 minutes. (I left mine in the oven while I was preparing the rest of the ingredients.)
In that Dutch oven, add a little more olive oil. Sauté onion, red pepper, zucchini and corn until just a little color shows and lightly soften.
If there is any fond (brown stuff) on the bottom of the pan, deglaze with a little of the broth and use your spatula to scrape it up.
Shred the chicken and add to the pot
Add the remaining ingredients except the rice.
Serve each bowl with some rice and a couple generous ladles of soup.
Garnish as you like.