Recent controversies have highlighted questions about racism in the industry and who ‘owns’ different cuisines
Much of the joy of food lies in sharing: the passing of dishes across the table; the adoption of new ingredients and techniques. Curries and pasta have become staple parts of the British diet, while Malaysian hawkers use an Australian malted chocolate drink to make “roti Milo”. Even if some adaptations have niche appeal – durian pizza, anyone? – exchange enriches us all.
This is why some are worried by suggestions of “cultural appropriation” when it comes to cooking. In Britain, the issue has boiled over after the discovery of a string of offensive posts and videos from a white chef who makes Thai food. He exchanged the letters L and R to mock Asian accents, made vile remarks about Thai people and others, and told people to “go down to the jungle and ask the monkey for a coconut” over a still of Brixton market. He has since been fired by the restaurant Som Saa, and its co-founder (who had praised one of the videos) has also apologised.