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Discussing food mediation through the lens of a burrito stand in Portland

Food and identity are inextricably linked. This is both cliché and absolutely true. It is not surprising then that people get angry when others appropriate the foods that they identify with culturally. If you don’t believe me take a look at the Kitchen Sister’s wonderful series Hidden Kitchen: War & Peace & Food. But what exactly is appropriation? Is using an ingredient from outside your own culture an act of respect or aggression? Put simply, is it okay for me to use Szechuan bean paste when I make dinner? (I’m not Chinese.) What if I use it in an inauthentic way? (I’m quite fond of putting it in tomato sauce.) Would it be okay for me to open a Szechuan restaurant? Where is the line between culinary borrowing and theft? […]

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