Some screeching, cunt-chafed harridan at Salon recently took to the Interwebz to shrewsplain to us why celebrities making paella in the wrong dish is apparently cultural appropriation. Mireia Triguero Roura sniffily tells us that while we were enjoying “unnecessarily gigantic meals” in our homes over the holidays (because she and her band of unshaven, rainbow-haired, perpetually offended harpies are ultimately the arbiters of what is necessary and what isn’t in other people’s lives), actor Rob Schneider was committing an act of nefarious cultural appropriation against Spain in his own home.
Spaniards were outraged. Some replied with angry, insulting tweets. Many sent pictures of their own paellas as inspiration. Others created fake, outrageous variations on the classic hot dog. A Spanish chef kindly took it upon himself to show the American actor what paella is and what it isn’t. For some hours, this became a trending topic in some regions in Spain. Schneider finally apologized and vowed to try to make it again, with all the new paella knowledge forced on to him through social media.
Massive raw lobster tails aside, Spaniards were reacting to what they felt was cultural appropriation of their cuisine.
Spaniards are certainly very proud of their cuisine, and we can be regionalists to a fault. No two towns can fully agree on what exactly you need to put in a paella. Some argue that onions give it the better flavor, but many will say that there is no place for them in the dish. Some take their issue with peas and fava beans, and others have unearthed family recipes going back to the 19th century to show that snails have a place on the rice. But small battles aside, there’s one thing everyone can agree on, and that is that one must cook paella in, well, a paella pan.
That’s right. Rob Schneider insensitively put stuff that he likes in his paella – in his own home – using the WRONG. FUCKING. PAN. – using ingredients he liked – and Spaniards lost their collective shit. Perhaps they should worry more about their abominable more than 18 percent unemployment rate, rather than soil themselves on Twitter because some celebrity posted a picture of his dinner, but that’s none of my business.
But then we have this Mireia Triguero Roura explaining just why it’s so offensive to cook what you want and how you want it in your own home, and I have to once again point to the fact that this cultural appropriation and perpetual offense garbage has jumped the shark. Hard.
The shallow and wide pan, with two handles in opposite sides, gives the name to this rice dish. And to some extent any rice dish cooked on such pan could qualify to be a paella. So even if we take this very low bar for defining paella, Schneider’s dish failed the test. As a twitter user pointed out he just made “rice with things,” or perhaps more accurately, things with rice.
Well… technically, that’s what paella is – rice with things. There’s vegetable paella. There’s seafood paella. There’s chicken paella, meat paella, mixed paella, you name it! There are also green beans, artichokes, and peppers – all depends on how you want to make it. So yeah – it’s rice with things, no matter how much snobbery you want to inject into your criticism.
To Schneider’s credit, where could he have turned to for a paella recipe that wouldn’t have infuriated most Spaniards? Just a few months ago, the famous chef Jamie Oliver failed the paella test again when he proposed a recipe that not only was again not made in the proper pan, but it also added something no Spaniard has ever seen in paella: chorizo. Just like Schneider, Oliver received his fair share of criticism on social media, and even newspapers reported the story as some outrageous insult to Spanish culture.
And why should Schneider give a shit if something he makes in his own home, for his friends and family, that he will consume “infuriates” anyone? Is he trying to sell it? No. Is he a chef in a Spanish restaurant? No. He’s a celebrity who posted a picture of his fucking dinner. Get over yourselves.
But unlike Schneider, Oliver is a chef, and a widely recognized one. So people will turn to him for advice. What are a celebrity chef’s responsibilities when writing a recipe for a dish that hails from a different cultural tradition than their own? How much should they stay close to the original dish and how much room do they have to be as creative as they want to be?
A chef is an artist with food. His only responsibility is to his customers, who will either love or hate his dish. He certainly has no responsibility to ask permission from the perpetually aggrieved about how he chooses to create. If they don’t like it, you know what they can do? Not spend money in his restaurant. Not buy the dish.
Did the Moors in ancient Spain, who began cultivating rice around the 10th century ask the Chinese in the Pearl River valley region who originated rice for permission to cultivate rice and use it in their dishes how they wished?
Did the Spaniards, who imported pepper seeds from Mexico in the 15th century ask them for permission to use them in their national dishes?
Saffron, a common spice in paella, is native to Southwest Asia and was likely cultivated in or near Greece. I don’t see the Greeks flinging “cultural appropriation” turds at the Spaniards for using that particular spice in their paella.
Food evolves, much like other art. Chefs explore new flavors, new spices, and new ingredients to make tasty dishes that stand out to their customers. Countries import various fruits, vegetables, and spices, and create new, interesting, innovative meals that vary with each individual palettes.
I’m guessing Mireia Triguero Roura is not that adventurous, nor is she open minded enough to understand diversity in that context, because when faced with a lack of things to be outraged about, these nags must dig deep to keep the indignation alive.
And she admits it.
It is hard to talk about cultural appropriation in food. For one, most cuisines have been developed as a result of the influences of many peoples, and hail from particular territories rather than countries.
Then perhaps she should stop talking about cultural appropriation in food. But no, she wastes many more paragraphs doing just that in the most inane, imbecilic manner!
A quick browse through the big food magazines in English reveals that virtually all have at least one paella recipe that includes chorizo—and most include other big no-nos among paella chefs. But most of them fail to mention that “chorizo” cannot be found in the dish in Spain. And in fact, most Spaniards felt even disgusted by the thought of it.
So what? Does that mean that others aren’t free to enjoy chorizo in their paella? Normal people just let others enjoy what they like, as long as it doesn’t infringe on their right to do the same. But apparently certain Special Snowflakes™ in Spain are unable to allow others to simply enjoy their own creations, so they have to destroy everyone else’s happiness, because it’s the only way they can validate their sad existences.
And yet if the nature of paella changes regionally inside Spain (even inside Valencia region), why should we allow those discrepancies only inside the borders of Spain? Shouldn’t we embrace, as David Rosengarten suggested in a Saveur article, the “changing nature of the dish” and “focus on the singular pleasure of eating it” instead? One could argue it should be a source of pride to see your cuisine become a source of inspiration for many around the world.
Unless one is a pretentious fuck weasel, in which case one writes entire articles waxing hysterical about “cultural appropriation.”
But at the heart of Spaniards’ battle to keep chorizo out of paellas around the world is the sense of protecting a sacred identity.
Sacred identity? What sort of fuckery is this? It’s food, ferpetessake! It’s rice mixed with olive oil, some veggies, spices, and proteins! It’s not like it came out of the Virgin Mary’s untapped asshole. It’s FOOD! Get over yourselves!
Earlier this year at Oberlin College, some students protested against a coleslaw and pulled-pork sandwich that was being sold under the name “banh mi,” which is a Vietnamese sandwich consisting of none of those ingredients.
Well, color me shocked! Oberlin students – the mental institution that spawned the feminazi, child molesting landwhale Lena Dunham – are protesting something?
Take, however, two of the big immigrant cuisines in the U.S.: Mexican and Italian. Arguably, tacos ordered in Texas are quite different from a carnitas taco found in Jalisco. And “marinara” sauce in the United States has come to mean a whole different world from the original Italian word. But unlike Mexican-American and Italian-American food in the U.S., which are the result of large populations of immigrants settling in the country and bringing with them their food and recipes and adapting both to the ingredients and the palates of the land, the chorizo-paella (or the Oberlin “banh mi”) seems rather the result of non-Spanish chefs in a test kitchen deciding what belongs in a dish with what seems like little research or respect to the country of origin. And unlike most creations that are a result of culinary cross-pollination (think: the ramen burger), no one is changing the name to suggest this is a new creation. (I suggest we call this “choriella” from “chorizo” and “paella”).
So ultimately, what Mireia Triguero Roura is offended by is the word “paella.” Just like any other Special Snowflake™ she just haz teh sadz that someone has the temerity to use a word with which she disagrees to describe something as basic as food, made by someone other than she and her band of perpetually aggrieved shrews find acceptable, and therefore, since her delicate labia are bruised by mere words, she can’t help but publicly shame them for it. Nagging – it’s like Vagisil for the SJW soul.
Krishnendu Ray, a New York University professor of food studies, argues in “The Ethnic Restaurateur” that white chefs have more freedom to play with other people’s food than chefs of color do, which creates an inherent inequality in the field. To that, I would add that in a world where most people turn to the Internet to find recipes — and English is the de facto lingua franca of the online world — English-speaking chefs not only have more freedom to play around, but they also have the power to ultimately transform traditional dishes from other countries, without so much as an acknowledgement.
And of course, no Salon article would be complete without quoting some obscure, perpetually victimized “professor” of food studies, claiming “white privilege,” to give the drivel what passes for gravitas in the world of the culture jihadists.
Cultural appropriation? Check.
White privilege? Check.
Ah! The recipe for progtard butthurt is complete!
Now, go enjoy your paella, heathens! Add some corn, tuna, and mayonnaise to it, and microwave it on high. And don’t forget to post a photo on Twitter and brag about your paella attempt, to really give this squealing nag something to gripe about!