Monday, March 19, 2018

Appropriation? I think not!

One of the benefits of working in a School District is "Spring Break".  Kids are off being kids.  High Schoolers are trying to talk Mom and Dad into Cancun, Corpus or Padre.  College kids are at Cancun, Corpus or Padre, coincidentally beer consumption spikes at those locations.  (I wonder why?) 

Teachers are off dreaming about....Well, who knows?  But they're off, and not around. 

So, yours truly had a relaxing week.  Got caught up on some projects that really are fairly important but never reach the priority level that allows them to bypass the "my printer's jammed!" level of panic that seems to drive minute by minute prioritization on a routine day.

I also got a bit of time to work on a project that's been slowly consuming space in my work shop. 

While this may not look that spiffy to the casual observer, it represents a vast improvement in available space for, oh, I don't know, Woodworking?  4 x 30 gallon bags of sawdust removed.  Untold tools recovered from underneath.  Rearranging where major tools are located for more efficient use. 

So a successful spring break work-cation.

Picked up Little Juvat a week ago last Thursday.  He's back for a little R&R from his slice of heaven in the Third World.  Flight's delayed etc, so arrival was a little later than planned and we went looking for a place to eat dinner.  Found a nice place and on perusing the menu, knew instantly what I, and it turned out 3 out of 4 of us, was going to have.

It also caused me to pause and chuckle about things going on in the world today.  Specifically, things going on in the world of Social Justice.

Today's topic will be on the concept of  Cultural Appropriation.

The source of all the world's knowledge (guaranteed vetted and accurate of course) defines that term thusly:

 "Cultural appropriation is the adoption or use of elements of one culture by members of a different culture. Cultural appropriation is seen by some as controversial, notably when elements of a minority culture are used by members of the cultural majority; this is seen as wrongfully oppressing the minority culture or stripping it of its group identity and intellectual property rights."

As usual, that definition doesn't seem TOO bad.  I mean, who would want to strip a group of its identity or intellectual property rights, right?

But....As usual, those people given an inch take a light year.

Just for fun, I googled "Cultural Appropriation in Food".  (Actually, I used Bing, but "Binged" doesn't sing like "Googled" does).  A quick 4.14 million hits appeared.  This one, by someone named Phylisa Wisdom (I'm assuming that's her strutting along the street carrying a baseball bat, although it's an Australian site, so cricket bat, maybe) had this for a money quote.

"It is easy to enjoy native ingredients at high-end restaurants like Vue du Monde and Billy Kwong, while also shirking responsibility for improving the lives of Indigenous Australians."

Huh?  I'm supposed to chose a restaurant, or cook a meal at home in such a manner as to save humanity.  Pretty tall order, toots!  All I'm looking for is something tasty to eat and enjoy a meal with family and friends.  If someone benefits from it, all the better.  I'm assuming that the Farmer/Rancher, Butcher, Grocer, Deliveryman, Bus boy, maî·tre d' hô·tel et al, made a little something along the way.

Most of the other hits were of a similar vain.  Although, interestingly, the first hit had this for their money quote:

"It’s easy to say “cultural appropriation” the same way it’s easy to say “racist” or “ignorant.” It feels good to say “cultural appropriation” — it rolls off the tongue nicely, sounds intellectual and all of a sudden you’re on the road to moral superiority. The moment you get the opportunity, you need people to know that you’ve cultivated and discerned yourself, and you’re not like those meat-and-potatoes people at all, so don’t associate you with those people! …Except we’re not, nobody is."


So, I had to chuckle the other night at dinner as I perused the menu at this restaurant and found their seasonal special was Bulgogi Tacos (불고기 타코 just for you Sarge, although when I ran it back through it translated to Roast Tacos) .  In 20 years or so in the Air Force, I spent at least a week on the ROK in 17 of them.  I love Korean Food in general and Bulgogi specifically, but hadn't found a reasonable representation thereof in my vicinity.  I also love Mexican Food in general and Tacos specifically.  A match made in heaven.

It was served on perfectly cooked corn tortillas with the Bulgogi topped with cabbage slaw with a sweet hot Korean style dipping sauce and pickled jalapenos and onions.  With a Craft Beer Porter to wash it down,  it was delicious.  My wife, who ordered something different was jealous.  Probably because I wouldn't share.

So, to reiterate my sins.  I as a White Male Fighter Pilot of German, Irish, Italian ancestry, ordered a Mexican take on a Korean Dish and washed it down with a British style beer.  

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.

But wait, there's more....

I'm planning dinner for St Patrick's day.  Corn beef will be on the menu, but I'm searching for different (read tasty) ways to prepare it.  I go to my old standby Chef John at and low and behold, he's got a recipe that I recognize I've just got to prepare.

This White Male Fighter Pilot of German, Irish, Italian ancestory is going to cook Corn Beef and Kimchi and wash it down with Guinness.  So I did, and served it in a Pasta dish.

The Kimchi added a nice, but not overpowering, spiciness to the dish, countering the sweet, saltiness of the Corn Beef.  The Guinness added a nice touch of authenticity.  All in attendance, approved.

So, once again...

Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa.

But not really.

I enjoy food and I've eaten different cuisines from all around the world.  I have done my best not to insult my host when presented with something unusual and have eaten things I never imagined was edible.  Most turned out to be very good and I was pleasantly surprised.  

Balut, however.......

So bottom line.  

I am not responsible for saving the world.  I am responsible for myself. I am the only person that can be responsible for myself, therefore, I must be.  Anything else, to quote a fighter pilot albeit not in this sense, is rubbish.

If I see something I think is interesting on the menu or in a recipe, I'll eat it.  If that offends someone, well...that's their issue, not mine.



  1. Hey Juvat;

    One of the things I like about being in the service is the variety of foods you get exposed to. I love German Geer and I love Kimche and a bunch of things in the middle. I don't believe in the "cultural appropriations", to me it is just an excuse for "faux outrage".

    1. Most of my career was focused on Asia and the Pacific, so didn't get much chance to experience Europe. Trying to make up for lost time nowadays and the experience has been generally good.
      Wholeheartedly agree with the "faux outrage" description.

  2. Corn beef and kimchi? Sounds awesome!

    (Cultural appropriation is nonsense.)

    1. It was. I was concerned that one would overpower the other (either one) and ruin the dish, but they played nicely with each other.

      Yes. Yes it is.

  3. "Cultural appropriation"? I have yet to hear anyone from the professionally aggrieved class complain about the sorts of "pizza" you find in SE Asia. At nationally recognized chains, even. Similarly for Mexican fair.

    Balut.... Well, fortunately none was produced at either Chiefs Initiations I participated in as Defense Attorney. And I was never in condition to look for it while on liberty in Subic Bay. But one deployment the Junior Officer Support Team was feeling so great it was decided that, enough hearing about the locals eating dog, we were going to get some ourselves. Lo, though we walked long and far off the well lit paths of Subic City into places we should not likely have gone, all we heard from every vendor along the way was "No dog, too expensive."

    Later, on more sober reflection, we decided they were just keeping it for themselves......


  4. "Later, on more sober reflection, we decided they were just keeping it for themselves......"

    For which, I would undoubtedly have been thankful! :-)

  5. THe proper way to cook corn beef is to boil it until it has no flavor...and yet I love it, appropriating it from those downtrodden Irish.

    1. And tougher than shoe leather no doubt. But, yes I love it also.

  6. Yeah, I’ll pass on balut, too.

    Cultural appropriation is best observed as a compliment to that culture.
    It’s when it becomes exploitation that the subject may be revisited.
    The only things I can be responsible for are my own attitude and actions.
    That said, what others think of me is none of my business.

    1. I think you're right about compliment. Somebody's not going to eat something that doesn't taste good (unless they're starving) so it shouldn't be an issue. Which just leaves Mr. Garibaldi's "Faux Outrage".

  7. Debbie Reynolds (doorkeeper)March 19, 2018 at 8:27 AM

    I always thought it was a nice, friendly thing to try local dishes, to get to know others. Mannerly, you know?
    Maybe....(gasp!) I'VE BEEN DOING IT WRONG?!
    Too bad, it works for me.
    (wanders off, dreaming of oildown)

    1. Mannerly? Apparently not, at least to the perpetually aggrieved.

  8. Mmmmm, corned beef (an English/Jewish dish, not Irish really) with sauerkraut, swiss cheese, decent rye bread with a good mustard. Mmmmm... English/Yiddish(Jewish,)German, Swiss, German/French, French. Drink it all down with a good Dr. Pepper from... Texas! Can I do this? Let's see.... English/Norman, Scottish/Norman, French, German, Swiss. Whooo! No appropriation there at all.

    Now, as to that whole appropriation thing, well, screw it. There's a saying. "To the Victors go the Spoils." We beat Mexico fair and square over Texas and the Southwest (and California) and then paid them for it, which means we incorporated huge portions of the Spanish/Mexican culture into our national makeup. Cuban food from when we conquered Cuba and then the Cubans conquered Miami. Puerto Rican food from New York and some island somewhere that sorta belongs to the US. Hawaiian food (spam and pineapple?) because they is us (and is that where we got our affection for sandwiches?) Japanese food from conquering them. Chinese food from them conquering us (damn it, California!) and we conquering them (with Christianity, until FDR and his socialist rat-pack gave the game to the Commies under Mao, so poo on you, FDR!) Same with Viet food. We conquered, no thanks to Walter Cronkite and Jane somebody, and brought those people back to the US so that food is ours, too. Same with Korean food. Heck, we won, twice (once against the Norks, once against the Norks-Chicoms), so Korean food is twice as good and twice as us. We conquered Great Britain (with a horizontal invasion in the late 1910'1 and all through the 40's to 80's) so their food is ours. We conquered France (suck on that, DeGaulle,) and Belgium and Italy and Germany, so we can justly claim all their foods is belong to us. Don't even talk about 'soul' food because as a partial Cajun I ate stuff even the 'soul food' people wouldn't eat, so don't even (I like most greens, hog portions that snobby people are only now finding out about, and fried everything. That right there is just a Southern thing (hey, which the North conquered, somewhat.)

    So poo on 'appropriation.' I'll eat what I damned want. You'll pry the cookbook out of my cold, dead hands....

    1. I like the way you think, Andrew (and write).

      Cookbook(s)....I have quite a few.

  9. I can even include Jewish/Yiddish/Hasidic food, as my wife is Jewish and I conquered her, um, er, I mean, we joined forces. Yeah, joined forces.

    I can even openly eat Middle Eastern food, since we (through Patton and his army) conquered most all of the good portions of the Middle East. And I can claim Turkish food from the Norman conquest of the crusade routes and Jerusalem and Acre.

    Indian (sub-continent) and Deepest-Darkest Africa are still out of my food prevue, and since we haven't conquered them, they are out of touch for me (especially since I have tried those varied cuisines and found them not to be of my liking.

    1. My initial foray's into Indian food have been enjoyable although the repercussions the next day are eye-opening 8-)

    2. I have yet to find an indian food that is either tasty to me or stays in me, if you know what I mean.

      There are better things to do with raisins. And I like soy sauce on my rice, or yellow rice (especially with chicken and peas, or sausage.) Not rice that smells like it has fabric softener in it.

      But then again, I like just plain mustard on a piece of bread. Or salad dressing sandwiches. Or just plain white rice with soy sauce. Simple pleasures, to go with all the complex food pleasures I also fix.

      Those Korean tacos look good, by the way. Mmmmmm.

    3. The tacos were excellent and didn't last very long. As an attestment, the beer lasted longer.

  10. Possibly 'Cultural Appropriation' = "I'm hungry. What's for dinner?"?

    Corned beef with sweet-hot mustard, steamed cabbage with at bit or Teriyaki, red spuds, and steamed carrots. I am also a sucker for yellow curry every time.
    (Read the reviews)

    That's one of the pluses of the DFW area. Whatever your taste buds desire, it's here somewhere. Our latest venture was of the downhome variety--Cat Fish Sam's.

    1. Hmmm, Corned Beef with Teriyaki. That sounds good.

      Might have to look into the Curry Sauce (on sale).

  11. Regardless of the food and the appropriation thereof......

    What's with the Pink Bandsaw?

    1. A combination of a fine patina of sawdust (AKA Man Glitter) and sunlight. Not that there's anything wrong with Pink, mind you. ;-)

  12. As for Indian food, there is one dish that I like at the Indian restaurant we go to. I can usually find something I like at any place we go to eat.

    Thanks for the post.
    Paul L. Quandt

    1. You're welcome, Paul.
      "I can usually find something I like at any place we go to eat."
      I was going to question this with "McDonalds?", then realize I never go there, so your statement has validity.

  13. OOOOOH Bulgogi, Kimchi, Gochujang! A BIG bottle of Kirin, Hiromi-san.

    1. While I have consumed Kirin (in the large bottle), on the ROK, it was always OB (in the large bottle).

  14. Heh... Yeah, our 'tastes' do tend to be a tad strange, compared to the average John Q. Public... Lumpia, Chicken Fried Steak, and mashed potatoes...

    1. Lumpia would be good now, haven't had that in quite a while. CFS? strange? Maybe in Sarge's neck of the woods. Round here it's de rigueur. Last consumed Sunday morning with eggs.

  15. Replies
    1. Thank you sir, it gets almost as much use as the table saw in the foreground. At the time, it was acting as a secondary work bench, hence the cardboard box on top.


Just be polite... that's all I ask. (For Buck)