'Ask A Mexican' Author Weighs In On Cultural Appropriation, Food

Published: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 4:31pm
Updated: Wednesday, May 31, 2017 - 4:40pm
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We hear it a lot, whenever a hipster chef opens up a new take on Asian cuisine or a white person opens up a taco shop, people scream “cultural appropriation!” You can’t steal another culture’s cuisine and sell it as your own.

That’s what happened after two white women opened up a pop-up breakfast burrito concept in Portland recently called Kooks Burritos.

They told Willamette Week that they got the idea after traveling to Baja California, falling in love with the fresh, handmade tortillas there and “picking the brains” of Mexican women in the region to find out how to make them.

They were quickly attacked for cultural appropriation, or using another culture’s traditions or language without permission. They ended up shutting down their shop.

But Gustavo Arellano says this is laughable. He’s the publisher and editor of the OC Weekly, and the author of their "Ask a Mexican" column. He wrote a piece about the skirmish in Portland recently, and I spoke with him more about why he thinks we should all let white people appropriate Mexican food.

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