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Tue Dec 22, 2015, 02:14 AM

Oberlin College's Food and Cultural Appropriation

Last week, students at Oberlin made national headlines for casting complaints about bad dining-hall food––a perennial lament of collegians––as a problematic social-justice failure. Word spread via people who saw their behavior as political correctness run amok. The New York Post gleefully mocked the students “at Lena Dunham’s college.” On social media, many wondered if the controversy was a parody.

In fact, it is quite real.

The core student grievance, as reported by Clover Lihn Tran at The Oberlin Review: Bon Appétit, the food service vendor, “has a history of blurring the line between culinary diversity and cultural appropriation by modifying the recipes without respect for certain Asian countries’ cuisines. This uninformed representation of cultural dishes has been noted by a multitude of students, many of who have expressed concern over the gross manipulation of traditional recipes.”

One international student suffered a sando-aggression:

Diep Nguyen, a College first-year from Vietnam, jumped with excitement at the sight of Vietnamese food on Stevenson Dining Hall’s menu at Orientation this year. Craving Vietnamese comfort food, Nguyen rushed to the food station with high hopes. What she got, however, was a total disappointment. The traditional Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwich that Stevenson Dining Hall promised turned out to be a cheap imitation of the East Asian dish.

Instead of a crispy baguette with grilled pork, pate, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs, the sandwich used ciabatta bread, pulled pork and coleslaw. “It was ridiculous,” Nguyen said. “How could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?”


Multiple students were dissatisfied with their landlocked, Midwestern institution’s take on the cuisine of an island nation with Earth’s most sophisticated fishing culture:

Perhaps the pinnacle of what many students believe to be a culturally appropriative sustenance system is Dascomb Dining Hall’s sushi bar. The sushi is anything but authentic for Tomoyo Joshi, a College junior from Japan, who said that the undercooked rice and lack of fresh fish is disrespectful. She added that in Japan, sushi is regarded so highly that people sometimes take years of apprenticeship before learning how to appropriately serve it.

“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,” Joshi said. “So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.”



http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2015/12/the-food-fight-at-oberlin-college/421401/

I understand the grievance of crappy cafeteria food but to make it into a social justice issue? -_____- These kids really need to grow up if they expected authenticity in freaking Ohio.

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Arrow 43 replies Author Time Post
Reply Oberlin College's Food and Cultural Appropriation (Original post)
romanic Dec 2015 OP
ProudToBeBlueInRhody Dec 2015 #1
romanic Dec 2015 #5
ProudToBeBlueInRhody Dec 2015 #23
Liberal_in_LA Dec 2015 #40
msongs Dec 2015 #2
LittleBlue Dec 2015 #3
CBGLuthier Dec 2015 #11
Retrograde Dec 2015 #4
frizzled Dec 2015 #6
DetlefK Dec 2015 #8
a la izquierda Dec 2015 #19
KamaAina Dec 2015 #32
Blue_Tires Dec 2015 #26
yeoman6987 Dec 2015 #28
DetlefK Dec 2015 #7
Crunchy Frog Dec 2015 #24
Skinner Dec 2015 #30
RobinA Dec 2015 #37
geek tragedy Dec 2015 #41
gvstn Dec 2015 #9
CBGLuthier Dec 2015 #10
a la izquierda Dec 2015 #20
Nye Bevan Dec 2015 #12
XemaSab Dec 2015 #42
hatrack Dec 2015 #13
Spider Jerusalem Dec 2015 #14
smirkymonkey Dec 2015 #18
MrScorpio Dec 2015 #15
Warren DeMontague Dec 2015 #16
Angel Martin Dec 2015 #39
ProfessorGAC Dec 2015 #17
oberliner Dec 2015 #21
Crunchy Frog Dec 2015 #25
oberliner Dec 2015 #33
Blue_Tires Dec 2015 #27
oberliner Dec 2015 #34
romanic Dec 2015 #29
oberliner Dec 2015 #35
The2ndWheel Dec 2015 #22
Waiting For Everyman Dec 2015 #31
RobinA Dec 2015 #36
question everything Dec 2015 #38
XemaSab Dec 2015 #43

Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 02:23 AM

1. Another article and something stuck out

http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/oberlin-students-take-culture-war-to-the-dining-hall/ar-BBnNn4Z?li=BBnb7Kz

Earlier this month, students with the school’s black student union protested outside of the dining hall at the Afrikan Heritage House, after demands for more traditional meals, including more fried chicken, went unmet, according to the campus paper, The Oberlin Review.


Fried chicken? I thought I was told here it was racist to assume that's a traditional meal for African Americans.

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Response to ProudToBeBlueInRhody (Reply #1)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 04:45 AM

5. I noticed that as well and to be honest

it sounds like Oberlin's Black Student Union is thinking in a narrow and backwards mindset; the demand for segregated "black spaces" alarm me more than fried chicken.

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Response to romanic (Reply #5)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 12:37 PM

23. I'm wondering if Oberlin's Black Student Union....

....is steeped just as much in stereotypes as the white suburban liberal kids they probably tell daily "you don't have a clue about my struggle".

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Response to ProudToBeBlueInRhody (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 12:04 AM

40. Fried chicken is the most requested dorm cafeteria food

 

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 03:08 AM

2. mcdonalds does the same thing for hamburgers but nobody complains lol nt

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 03:10 AM

3. So the students can't eat tandoori beef because of Hindu religious law?

 

Another student, Yasmine Ramachandra, offered a distinct complaint, saying she was compelled to join the protest “after arriving at Stevenson Dining Hall with other South Asian students on Diwali, a Hindu holiday, and finding the traditional Indian tandoori made with beef, which many Hindi people do not eat for religious reasons.”


At what point do atheists and agnostics get their freedom to not be restricted by religious BS?

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Response to LittleBlue (Reply #3)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 07:25 AM

11. What kind of lunatics would put beef in a tandoor? Those are for chicken and goat and Naan.

Yeah that was just stupid and for Diwali to boot.

I am an atheist and I would no more expect Indian food to be made from beef (Although a small amount is) than I would expect a Jewish deli to make a fine pork sandwich. Whining about other people's beliefs restricting your food choices is kind of petty. You want beef in a tandoor then get you some clay, make the oven, and cook it yourself.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 04:40 AM

4. bahn = pain

bread - especially the brioche-like one used for bahn mi - came with the French colonizers, so who's appropriating whom? And you can get some pretty bad sushi in Japan.

Life would be so much more pleasant if these were my biggest problems.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 05:19 AM

6. I don't dismiss this as "millennial whining", badly prepared food is an insult!

 

Everyone should be able to expect that food advertised as being from their country is going to be reasonably authentically prepared.

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Response to frizzled (Reply #6)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 05:48 AM

8. +1

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Response to frizzled (Reply #6)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 11:58 AM

19. Agree, sort of

I'm half Italian. My family all came in the 20th century, and they brought their cooking skills with them. I've known how to cook since I could stand at an oven without burning the house down. I've known how to make pasta from scratch since I was a teen. I refuse to eat in most Italian restaurants outside of NY or Philadelphia. Call me a snob, I don't care. Why pay for what I can make better myself?

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Response to a la izquierda (Reply #19)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:31 PM

32. There are plenty of Italian restaurants outside of NY or Philadelphia.

 

Boston's North End. Providence. Wooster St. in New Haven. Madison Ave. in Bridgeport, even! SF's North Beach. New Orleans has even come up with its own "Creole-Italian" cuisine! Mangia!

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Response to frizzled (Reply #6)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:01 PM

26. Then instead of bitching and moaning

he could consult/work with the food service to tighten up the board of fare...

Or god forbid cook that shit up himself, since he knows how it is supposed to be done...

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Response to frizzled (Reply #6)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:09 PM

28. And we wonder why tuition and board is so high

 

I would think peanut butter and jelly would do the trick. Back when colleges were affordable, you ate what they gave you. It stunk, but you didn't starve. If they want special cuisine, you will see tuition go up even more.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 05:47 AM

7. Imagine being a US-student abroad and you get promised a typical american Thanksgiving Dinner...

You get roasted duck, potato-dumplings, gravy, Brussels sprouts and coleslaw.

Would you be... disappointed?

If a restaurant advertises, sells and serves this meal as a traditional US-american Thanksgiving Dinner, would you feel the need to point out to everybody that it's actually not the traditional dishes?

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 12:48 PM

24. I'd suck it up, and be grateful they even tried.

If they're not American, it wouldn't surprise me if their interpretation of "American" cuisine was a little bit off.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:21 PM

30. That would be an awesome Thanksgiving dinner. Incidentally, I had something like that happen.

Right after college two friends and I spent some time backpacking in Asia, and we happened to be in Sumatra, Indonesia, on Thanksgiving. The day before Thanksgiving we were eating in a little restaurant at one of the touristy areas that catered mostly to western tourists, and we ran into some other Americans, and someone mentioned that the next day was Thanksgiving and we should all get together and have a Thanksgiving dinner together. I think there were nine of us altogether. So we talked to the manager of the restaurant and explained that the next day was an important American holiday and we explained a number of traditional Thanksgiving foods, and would they be interested in making us a big celebratory feast?

Long story short, it was the best Thanksgiving meal of my life. None of it was exactly what you would get in the US. It was all Indonesian interpretations of American foods, made with whatever ingredients were available. (And this was pre-Internet, so they couldn't go on the internet and get the "real" recipes.) It was delicious and familiar but also totally unique. We had chickens instead of turkey. We had some kind of mashed tuber or taro instead of mashed potatoes. There was an attempt at stuffing that was barely recognizable as stuffing, but delicious. There were probably a dozen different dishes, some similar to American dishes and others straight-up Indonesian. It was fantastic.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #7)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 05:14 PM

37. I Can't Imagine

expecting a foreign kitchen to produce authentic American food, so no, I wouldn't be disappointed. It's the same as I know better than to order a Philly cheese steak in Atlanta.

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Response to DetlefK (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 12:29 AM

41. Sounds like an upgrade nt

 

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 06:09 AM

9. Its a college dining hall.

Most everything is shipped in frozen and heated up.

If I buy a Stouffer's Lobster Newburg, I'm not really expecting a gourmet dish with a finely tuned sauce.

If I bought sushi at my local convenience store I not expecting restaurant quality sushi made by a master sushi chef.

This just seems ridiculous. Yoou try it once and don't like it than don't order it again.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 07:20 AM

10. I just added Banh Mi to the list of foods I must have again when I return to the states in April

Oklahoma City has a large Vietnamese American population and I was spoiled by the great sandwiches and pho and spring rolls with peanut sauce. We got damn good sushi too, from several establishments run the Japanese Americans. Yeah, in freakin' Oklahoma.

This does sound more like a case of shit food than misappropriation of culture.

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Response to CBGLuthier (Reply #10)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 11:59 AM

20. OKC's Vietnameses is really good.

Damn, I miss that city sometimes.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 08:22 AM

12. Did they at least serve truly authentic Mexican food such as the "Mexi-Melt"? (nt)

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Response to Nye Bevan (Reply #12)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 10:23 AM

42. Don't anyone let them see a Mission-style burrito

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 08:26 AM

13. Gosh, I sure hope I don't vary any recipies! Or use improper ingredients!

That would make me a bad, bad person, now wouldn't it?

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 08:29 AM

14. I'm going to guess none of these people has ever had "Mexican" or "Chinese" or "Italian" food...

 

at pretty much any restaurant in the USA (lots and lots of "modifying recipes" going on, there).

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Response to Spider Jerusalem (Reply #14)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 11:52 AM

18. Don't get me started on Italian food.

 

Most restaurants don't have a clue.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 08:54 AM

15. Two things that I've realized from my travels…

1. Americans are not very good at duplicating non-American dishes…

2. Other countries are not very good at duplicating American ones… With the notable exception of The Philippines.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 09:06 AM

16. If they're really concerned about "cultural appropriation", wouldnt that mean the dining hall should

Only serve "Traditional" Ohio dishes, like....Okay, i got nothin'.

Maybe pork rinds and jello with marshmallows in it? (Or is that Indiana.)

Perhaps they mean the traditional food of the original white european colonial oppressor, so.. england?

Fish and Chips? Kidney pies and boiled cabbage?

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Response to Warren DeMontague (Reply #16)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 12:01 AM

39. northern Ohio has many people of german origin

after a few servings of sheep stomach, sausage and sauerkraut, maybe the special snowflakes will finish their meals and quit complaining.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 11:46 AM

17. Um! Ever Had The Pasta In A College Cafeteria?

Should i have been upset about that? I missed that memo, i guess. I could have been all upset while in school all my undergrad years.

Now i feel cheated.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 12:23 PM

21. Having gone to Oberlin

 

I am happy to answer any questions about the experience of attending that college.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #21)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 12:55 PM

25. How was the food in their cafeteria?

I went to Earlham College in Indiana, and their food...wasn't horrible.

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Response to Crunchy Frog (Reply #25)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:31 PM

33. The people who were most serious about food tended to eat in co-ops

 

Rather than in the dining hall.

If you ate in a co-op you cooked your own food and took turns taking care of various kitchen chores and the like.

I found that those who really cared about what they were eating would go that route.

As for me, I mostly ate cereal and other junk (in the dining hall) to be completely honest

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Response to oberliner (Reply #21)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:03 PM

27. How hard do you want to slap these whiners?

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Response to Blue_Tires (Reply #27)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:32 PM

34. It was always a small group who made a lot of noise about these things

 

Most of the students really didn't care one way or the other and were just trying to do their own thing.

However, there were always very passionate people who would make a lot of noise about issues such as this.

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Response to oberliner (Reply #21)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:18 PM

29. On a scale of 1 to 10

how much does Oberlin embarrass you?

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Response to romanic (Reply #29)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:34 PM

35. It was quite an experience

 

Having grown up in a pretty conservative suburban environment, it was definitely quite an experience going there.

Mostly, I stayed away from this sort of thing and just tried to get my work done and hang out with my friends.

Though I certainly had a front row seat from many interesting showdowns, and did find myself in the middle of one when I came to the defense of a teacher whom a vociferous group of students was unhappy with.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 12:33 PM

22. America isn't called a melting pot for nothing

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 01:25 PM

31. These kids are way over-thinking lunch.

WTF is "authentic" about a recipe? It isn't a signed painting after all.

They need to become familiar with the concept "outside the box", because they're so regimented it's crazy.

And let's get real, the notion of "cultural appropriation" is 100% bullshit anyway.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Tue Dec 22, 2015, 05:07 PM

36. I Find That

all too often I get a cheap imitation of a dish in an actual for-profit restaurant these days.

In fact, I'm an American and I can't stand the cheap imitation of Chinese food one finds at Chinese buffets around here. Now THAT'S disrespectful.

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Wed Dec 23, 2015, 11:44 PM

38. Something is really wrong with today's students

Don't they have to study? How about going out and helping the poor and the homeless? Tuturing students in inner cities?

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Response to romanic (Original post)

Thu Dec 24, 2015, 10:52 AM

43. Virtually all food involves culturally appropriated elements

Per Wikipedia:

Corn, beans, potatoes, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, chili peppers, avocados, strawberries, peanuts, turkey, squash, pumpkins, pineapple, pecans, and chocolate are American. (Fun fact: most traditional Thanksgiving foods are native to the New World!)

Wheat, oats, peas, lentils, figs, lettuce, carrots, almonds, cucumber, and mustard are Middle Eastern.

Grape wine, asparagus, cauliflower, kale, chestnuts, beets, broccoli, and hops are European.

Chicken, pigs, rice, eggplant, citrus fruits, and peaches are Asian.

Cows are Indian or African.

Macadamia nuts are Australian.

Coffee is African.

I'd guess that almost everyone in the US eats foods from multiple origins every day. How boring food would be if we didn't!

Meanwhile, I want the Asian kids to accuse the African-American kids of cultural appropriation for cooking their native food in a non-traditional manner.

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