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CDS Appropriates Asian Dishes, Students Say

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CDS Appropriates Asian Dishes, Students Say

An employee makes a roll at Dascomb Dining Hall’s sushi bar. Many international students have cited Campus Dining Services’ cuisine as culturally

An employee makes a roll at Dascomb Dining Hall’s sushi bar. Many international students have cited Campus Dining Services’ cuisine as culturally appropriative.

Bryan Rubin, Photo editor

An employee makes a roll at Dascomb Dining Hall’s sushi bar. Many international students have cited Campus Dining Services’ cuisine as culturally appropriative.

Bryan Rubin, Photo editor

Bryan Rubin, Photo editor

An employee makes a roll at Dascomb Dining Hall’s sushi bar. Many international students have cited Campus Dining Services’ cuisine as culturally appropriative.

Clover Linh Tran

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Diep Nguyen, a College first-year from Vietnam, jumped with excitement at the sight of Vietnamese food on Stevenson Dining Hall’s menu at Orientation this year. Craving Vietnamese comfort food, Nguyen rushed to the food station with high hopes. What she got, however, was a total disappointment.

The traditional Banh Mi Vietnamese sandwich that Stevenson Dining Hall promised turned out to be a cheap imitation of the East Asian dish. Instead of a crispy baguette with grilled pork, pate, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs, the sandwich used ciabatta bread, pulled pork and coleslaw.

“It was ridiculous,” Nguyen said. “How could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?”

Nguyen added that Bon Appétit, the food service management company contracted by Oberlin College, has a history of blurring the line between culinary diversity and cultural appropriation by modifying the recipes without respect for certain Asian countries’ cuisines. This uninformed representation of cultural dishes has been noted by a multitude of students, many of who have expressed concern over the gross manipulation of traditional recipes.

Prudence Hiu-Ying, a College sophomore from China, cited an instance when Stevenson was serving General Tso’s chicken, but the product did not resemble the popular Chinese dish. Instead of deep-fried chicken with ginger-garlic soy sauce, the chicken was steamed with a substitute sauce, which Hiu-Ying described as “so weird that I didn’t even try.”

According to CDS management, these dishes are a result of Bon Appétit’s foray into nutritional diversity. The food service company has recently been upping their output of cultural dishes in an attempt to diversify students’ options in taste and flavor profile.

“Hopefully, if you dined with us in Stevenson, there would be one thing in every meal that you would want to eat,” said Michile Gross, director of Business Operations and Dining Services.

Perhaps the pinnacle of what many students believe to be a culturally appropriative sustenance system is Dascomb Dining Hall’s sushi bar. The sushi is anything but authentic for Tomoyo Joshi, a College junior from Japan, who said that the undercooked rice and lack of fresh fish is disrespectful. She added that in Japan, sushi is regarded so highly that people sometimes take years of apprenticeship before learning how to appropriately serve it.

“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,” Joshi said. “So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.”

Still, some students are not convinced that Bon Appétit’s menu qualifies as cultural appropriation. Arala Tian Yoon Teh, a College sophomore from Malaysia, said the dining service’s food selections are a reflection of cultural collision, not cultural appropriation. She added that she thought Bon Appétit was inspired by Asian cuisine and just made dishes with the available ingredients.

Gross said Bon Appétit did not intend to serve the dishes disrespectfully and that there is room to correct the issue.

“Maybe what we should do is describe the dish for what it is as opposed to characterizing it with a specific name,” Gross said.

Richard Tran, a Vietnamese-American College senior, suggested that Bon Appétit look into the history and original recipes of the foods they are trying to make, as there are food taboos within cultures they should avoid. Mai Miyagaki, a College junior from Japan, added that a meeting between Bon Appétit employees and international students could help alleviate tensions.

“I wish they could do something like a collaboration with the cultural student [organizations] before starting new stuff like this [sushi bar],” Miyagaki said. “Overall, I think we — including myself — can always learn more about how to admit that we don’t know everything about every culture in the world and have a ‘We’re still trying to learn more’ kind of attitude.”

In line with Miyagaki’s hopes for collaboration, Gross said she is planning on setting up a meeting in upcoming weeks to discuss these issues.

“It’s important to us that students feel comfortable when they are here,” Gross said.



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78 Responses to “CDS Appropriates Asian Dishes, Students Say”

  1. M.W. on November 13th, 2015 4:45 PM

    As an alum who worked for CDS for my entire four years at Oberlin, I take issue with this attitude. What do you want them to serve – “classic American fare” everyday? At least they try to have a range of options and mix it up to satisfy student tastes. Of course not everything they serve is “authentic” but you have to consider where the school is located and the availability (or lack thereof) of certain products in the area. Not to mention that not all of the CDS staff there who are actually preparing the food have been as fortunate as many of the students when it comes to having exposure to different cuisines or ingredients. I worked in multiple dining halls and was friendly with many of the staff there, and out of everyone I met, maybe two of them had been out of the country before. One of them even told me that she had never seen or heard of a chickpea before she started working there. Before students start labeling the lack of authenticity of their food as “cultural appropriation,” maybe they should take a step back and think about the likely differences between themselves and the people who are preparing it.

  2. AliLongworth on December 18th, 2015 4:45 PM

    Are Italian students upset over what passes as pizza, and how do the Mexican students feel now that you can get fish tacos, tofu tacos and even dessert tacos? Inquiring minds want to know.

  3. James on December 19th, 2015 6:52 PM

    Um fish tacos are Mexican. They are from Baja California, which is the area of Mexico directly south of California.

  4. Swami on December 18th, 2015 9:19 PM

    “… Instead of a crispy baguette…”

    Wait… the Banh Mi is Vietnamese cultural appropriation of French cuisine?

  5. Dan on December 22nd, 2015 9:18 AM

    Um… no, not really. More the other way around – what with French colonialization etc.

  6. This is sad on December 23rd, 2015 9:55 AM

    Nope the baguette came from the French, the Vietnamese added the toppings.
    It’s easy to Google said info fyi.
    Also other random fact: Tempura came from the Portuguese and the peppers used in Schezuan cooking from the Spanish.
    Soooo….I guess we should all just stop eating.

  7. John on December 19th, 2015 3:45 AM

    What time is it

  8. Rickyrab on December 20th, 2015 2:17 AM

    Howdy Doody time!

  9. Sam on December 21st, 2015 6:57 AM

    It’s 6:57

  10. Darren on December 19th, 2015 12:17 PM

    great so not only do millennial’s believe in abolishing free speech they are now offended by cafeteria food. all I can say is WOW! they butchered American dishes just the same when I was your age. you don’t like cafeteria food pack a lunch! college students have no idea about the real world.

  11. melody on December 19th, 2015 4:39 PM

    Like the other persons comment said also… General Tso’s Chicken was invented in the US by Chinese-Americans. While it obviously has Chinese precedents, it is an American dish, and so regarding the cafeteria’s version as inauthentic or appropriative with respect to China is simply false –

  12. LolaPence on December 22nd, 2015 12:06 AM

    If you know that oberlin students are required to live in residential hall for at least 6 semesters and eat the CDS food at least 10 meals a week for 4 semesters as graduation requirements, you won’t say something like “pack a lunch”. However, I won’t say anything like you “have no idea” about oberlin because I know the article did not inform you that. We are addressing a problem about a place we know. We pay for it, and we expect it to worth 18,000 USD per year for our residential experience.

  13. Nick Poutine on December 19th, 2015 12:39 PM

    Is this the Onion??

  14. GRA on December 21st, 2015 6:18 PM

    No, it’s Oberlin College. A highly liberal liberal arts college. It’s also a revered institution of higher learning. That’s the sad part.

  15. DVP on December 22nd, 2015 7:22 PM

    That isn’t what the word “liberal” means in this context.

  16. Paul on December 22nd, 2015 8:56 PM

    Then it’s the source of much of what’s in The Onion.

  17. MichaelWH on December 23rd, 2015 12:51 AM

    “It’s also a revered institution of higher learning.”

    Not. Any. Longer.

  18. Sturgeon's Law on December 19th, 2015 1:08 PM

    “Prudence Hiu-Ying, a College sophomore from China, cited an instance when Stevenson was serving General Tso’s chicken, but the product did not resemble the popular Chinese dish.”

    General Tso’s Chicken was invented in the US by Chinese-Americans. While it obviously has Chinese precedents, it is an American dish, and so regarding the cafeteria’s version as inauthentic or appropriative with respect to China is simply false. Prudence appears to be misinformed- a neat encapsulation of this entire story and the larger debate.

  19. Rickyrab on December 20th, 2015 2:23 AM

    Chop suey is also American, and so are fortune cookies. Both were invented by Asian-Americans, true, but they’re still American dishes by jus soli.

    Chop suey got its name, legend has it, when a cook who had come to America from China looked at the chopsticks on the table and the bottle of soy sauce he had nearby when asked what the dish was named. He tried to say “chop-soya”, for the chopsticks and soy sauce, but he had a bit of an accent and it came out as “chop suey”.

  20. Meh on December 22nd, 2015 7:12 PM

    Actually chop suey means odd and ends cause the cook that invented it threw a bunch of left over veggies into a wok.

  21. TC on December 20th, 2015 2:37 PM

    In fact, I highly recommend the excellent documentary “The Search For General Tso” for more information than anyone could ever want to know about this uniquely American dish. It’s fascinating.

  22. BAR on December 23rd, 2015 2:17 AM

    Massive troll. The “Chinese student” was a dead giveaway. (Hiu-Ying is NOT a standard spelling in China, and General Tso’s American anyway.)

    Clickbait. Move on.

  23. BAR on December 23rd, 2015 2:22 AM

    In addition, the REAL Prudence Poon Hiu-Ying is from Hong Kong (as suggested by the obviously Cantonese spelling), which is hardly representative of China. It is highly doubtful if she ever had GTC there. She could have a right to complain about CDS char siu or dim sum.

  24. Dean Wernstrom on December 19th, 2015 1:41 PM

    There is no hope for the future…

  25. The Sanity Inspector on December 19th, 2015 2:21 PM

    Don’t feel bad. The mystery meat that is legend among American students bears little resemblance to our cuisine, either.

  26. Anthony Russo on December 19th, 2015 3:37 PM

    To Whom It May Concern:

    Being concerned about about cultural appropriation is the sole purview of moneyed European Americans and has been ever since we appropriated those concerns from African Americans. At first I was annoyed to find that Diep Nguyen was in turn appropriating cultural sensitivity from my people, but then I became concerned that perhaps she had been indoctrinated with these sensibilities via the imperialistic hegemony of the Anglo American liberal arts education system. I wasn’t certain that I would ever be able to come up with any certainty regarding who was appropriating what or indoctrinating whom, but I was certain that if I were in the position of purchasing sushi labeled in packaging that sported English letters then I would not expect to receive genuinely authentic Chinese sushi.

    I once ordered a burrito in Japan and was excited to see what would arrive. Take my advice: when in Japan do not order a burrito.

    A R Russo

  27. R Nielsen on December 20th, 2015 4:24 PM

    My husband and I ordered nachos at a bar in Tokyo and got corn chips and a bowl of ketchup. Other than a good laugh, and a *remember to NEVER order Mexican food in Japan* mental note, drank our delicious Sapporo beer and got local style snacks next round. The absolute seriousness these students take of themselves is completely laughable.

  28. Paul on December 22nd, 2015 8:58 PM

    Best response of the day. When I was in Manila I order fish and chips. I figured nothing could go wrong there. I got fish sticks and tortilla chips.

  29. patrick on December 19th, 2015 4:47 PM

    Food is different wherever you go. All food is authentic. I met someone from northern China who had never seen a wok before. Food changes and is different wherever you go. You know, in Thailand there is no such thing as peanut sauce. But Thai restaurants in USA still serve it. Maybe they should be protested for bringing inauthenticity to their culture in America…

    That pizza I had in Korea many years ago was not “authentic”. I’m deeply offended and waiting for an apology.

    As for the banh mi, there are two Vietnamese restaurants where the sandwiches have what amounts to be coleslaw. I do not like.

    Also, more than one Vietnamese restaurant serves banh mi which is basically pulled pork. Every Vietnamese restaurant is different. Which is authentic?

  30. Dave on December 19th, 2015 5:06 PM

    I’m Irish American and outraged that I cannot get real Irish Corned Beef and Cabbage at my University..

    Where do I sign up to boycott?

  31. margery on December 19th, 2015 6:04 PM

    “How could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?”

    In Japan, they put corn on pizza. Italian students aren’t whining about it. This is the most American and most ridiculous thing.

    Nothing from a cafeteria is “authentic” anything. It’s three dollars. Get over yourselves.

  32. Kramer on December 19th, 2015 6:06 PM

    These pretzels are making me thirsty

  33. T Nguyen on December 19th, 2015 6:16 PM

    Ciabatta bread is banh mi. So, if your parents told you to get some banh mi while at the grocery store, are they expecting you to bring back sandwiches, or a loaf of bread? Banh mi is just a generic term for bread and sandwiches. I hope when you go home to visit your folks and ask for bahn mi, you don’t get pissed at your parents if they “served it wrong” without respect to their culture. That happens if it was a hoagie roll with cha and maggi? You gonna get pissed and tell your parents it’s disrespectful to Vietnamese culture?

  34. DMS on December 19th, 2015 8:18 PM

    This one is a keeper.
    A true classic worth saving.

  35. john on December 20th, 2015 4:05 AM

    is victimhood a cultural appropriation ?

  36. Andrew Carter on December 20th, 2015 4:23 AM

    It seems tradition to me that institutional food to be poor. You can’t expect a cafeteria feeding hundreds cheaply to serve perfect international cuisine. I recommend moving campus and cooking your own or possibly living on campus and eating pot noodles. Stop making everything about political correctness. Yu have a choice eat it or don’t eat it.

  37. Patrick Knill on December 20th, 2015 6:41 AM

    I’m a chef in the United Kingdom. I didn’t think it would be too long until issues of cultural appropriation started to be heard with regard to cuisine.

    The words quoted in this article from Tomoyo Joshi are quite unsettling in their implications. They suggest that Japanese cuisine is owned by Japan. It’s not. It’s just a point of origin along the way. Cuisine is not anyone’s possession, least of all that of a country. Her words might go down well with a nationalist like current Japanese PM Shinzo Abe.

    Badly made sushi is not disrespectful other than to the customer. Would anyone expect a student refectory in America to make high quality sushi? There is undoubtedly a wide range of sushi from the appalling to the excellent and it is certainly the case that many serving sushi in Japan – and elsewhere – undertake long apprenticeships to develop their craft.

    Japanese cuisine, whether in the 21st century or the 17th, possesses a wide variety of external influences: Korean, Chinese, Okinawan, Portuguese, British, French, Russian, German, American and others. Moreover, many dishes in Japanese cuisine are distinctly local in origin. Do you only allow people of Nagasaki heritage to make champon – an appropriated Chinese dish, to use the terminology – or those from Sapporo and environs to make Hokkaido ramen? Of course not.

    What seems inherent in Joshi’s words – as much as they are quoted here – is the idea that cuisine is somehow inherently imbued with national essence, a decidedly reactionary idea that belongs with the worst of 1930s Japanese domestic ideology and the hegemony of mythic national identity.

    Take a dish like Japanese curry. Hugely popular in Japan and elsewhere now for that matter. What is that dish? Well, it’s the development of a recipe that came from Britain via India. Such is the nature of cuisine and, like the principle of the free movements of peoples across borders, cuisine should neither be hindered in its travels. It produces deliciousness! Isn’t that what you want in your food rather than a conservative essentialism dressed up in contemporary garb? As for authenticity, does no one read Walter Benjamin anymore?

    Admittedly, it also sometimes produces rubbish sushi. If you want a dish to be closer to its domestic set of ingredients, techniques, presentation and so on, you’d be better off sticking to something that’s not yet broken out on the market. No one is really doing keihan as yet – a wonderful chicken dish from the Amami Islands – so you stand a better chance of producing that more closely to its origins. Sushi escaped a long time ago. It’s everywhere. Even in space.

    By all means fight for good food and be offended by poor quality, but don’t let that be an excuse for an insular, parochial mindset. Great things have come from the freedom of cuisines to meet and mingle. Japanese and other cuisines can take it. It’s going to be okay.

  38. JR on December 20th, 2015 8:36 AM

    If you want authentic ethnic food, you have to either go to a restaurant where people of that culture cook and serve, or you have to go to that country. Don’t like what is being served? Get in line with everyone else that thinks that the food stinks. All across America, bad food is being served daily to students of ALL ages. Welcome to America.

    Appropriating culture? We’re a melting pot over here. Everything is appropriated by everyone, everywhere. Think that is bad? It’s actually a compliment. Something that you have that the locals think is so good, they’re trying to reproduce it. Find it an insult? Well, it’s a bigger insult to come to another country and immediately start complaining that it’s not your home country. Why would you think that it would be? I’ll agree that cafeteria food is bad, but it’s going to be bad no matter what is served. It costs a LOT of money to serve great food…and then would come the complaints that it’s too expensive.

    For it really comes down to that:: money. It’s expensive to try to feed huge crowds of people really good food. And finally, if I ever went to visit Vietnam, the last thing that I would order would be a burger. “Eat local” is a cliche for a reason. As a parent of a college student, there is only one answer: cook your own stuff. Bonus points if you teach your dorm friends how to do it too. This could be an opportunity to share culture, instead it’s just another college student complaint fest.

  39. Rose on December 20th, 2015 9:25 AM

    Only one problem with this place… You do realize that it is not the original taste either right? Even if you get it from a place that makes Asian foods, it is still Americanized. So what you are getting is American food with only a slice of Asian mixed in. If you want the real food go to the country who makes it or to a family who has moved from there over to here and not in some restaurant. Asians countries actually live mostly on rice and veggies not meat which is a treat there.

  40. Patrick on December 20th, 2015 9:47 AM

    I see an SNL sketch in the making.

    As an Oberlin Conservatory of Music alumnus who ate and once worked in the Dascomb dining hall back when I was a student in the early 90s, I read this story with embarrassment for the students now being lampooned across the Internet. We were so much luckier back then at least in one regard: our youthful narcissism, our sometimes foolish overreactions, our sometimes silly ideas weren’t in danger of going viral. Our pampered lives inside the Oberlin bubble existed mostly away from the ordinary world, in a sort of Las Vegas-like setting. It was a safe oasis within Ohio built on a swamp in the middle of nowhere. What happened at Oberlin, inspired or cringe worthy, stayed at Oberlin. No more my dear Obie-Dobies. No more.

  41. Joe on December 20th, 2015 12:31 PM

    So she was upset that a traditional Vietnamese dish, containing a baguette, was appropriated by CDS? A baguette?

  42. Chantal (deSomer) Ostroske '09 on December 20th, 2015 12:31 PM

    I’m an Oberlin alumna (2009), and after graduating, I spent two years teaching English in China. So I know what it’s like to live in a foreign country and be homesick for your own food. I get it. I really do. That said, there are a few things to keep in mind.

    First, whether CDS serves authentic American food is also up for debate. Nobody likes dining hall food. Not just at Oberlin—anywhere across the country. You just can’t expect top-notch quality food from a dining hall. It’s not going to happen.

    Of course, food brings people together. Some of my fondest memories from living in China revolve around food. Like the time my Chinese friends cooked hotpot for us. Or the time we cooked pasta for them. If you want real cultural exchange over food, don’t rely on the dining hall. Make it happen yourself, in the dorm kitchen.

    Second, it’s difficult to find authentic food from a foreign country, even in real restaurants. Chinese restaurants in America don’t serve authentic Chinese food, even when they are run by Chinese immigrants. Instead, they serve American Chinese food, a mixture of the two cultures that they think their customers will like. American restaurants in China do not serve authentic American food. They modify their food to appeal to the local tastes. Even big American chain restaurants change their food when they expand into a new country.

    Would I call this cultural appropriation? No. I call it movement of ideas. (I teach 6th grade Social Studies, and Movement is one of the 5 Themes of Geography that I teach at the beginning of the year.) When people move from place to place, they take new ideas with them. But these ideas change over time. Each person puts his or her own spin on it. They change things according to their own tastes, according to what resources are available to them, and, yes, according to misinterpretation sometimes. Is that a bad thing? No. Is that a good thing? No. It is just how it happens. In general, it’s not something to get offended about, except in extreme cases. In the related article, “CDS and Students Discuss Cultural Appropriation,” it mentioned that CDS made Indian food with beef for Diwali. That is pretty bad. I really don’t blame the students for being upset about that. I still wouldn’t call it cultural appropriation, but it is a bad case of being misinformed.

    Now, if CDS’s goal really is to “diversify students’ options in taste and flavor profile,” as it says in the article, then they are clearly failing miserably at it. I think it is wonderful that CDS is willing to listen to the students and make changes based on their input. I also read the related article, “CDS and Students Discuss Cultural Appropriation.” It made me very happy to hear that the students were able to give specific suggestions for improvement, and the employees were eager to listen. When the quality of dining hall food improves, everybody benefits.

  43. Ruben on December 20th, 2015 12:33 PM

    No, no, no… I refuse to believe this is real. Epic trolling? Banh Mi and General Tso’s. I can’t handle the irony. Yes, the Onion. Maybe Mr. Show. As a liberal, the only argument I can make to conservatives is: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. You win.

  44. Tyro on December 20th, 2015 1:05 PM

    Even the meatloaf is probably nothing like mom makes.

    You know, my dad was the same way when he went to college as an immigrant who had moved to America with his parents– he was so used to his family’s food from the old country that he felt like there was nothing he could eat in the cafeteria. But that was what got him out of his comfort zone and helped him grow up and expand his horizons.

  45. Ron Murphy on December 20th, 2015 2:39 PM

    It’s always encouraging to see people face up to persecution for the principles they hold. Raif Badawi springs to mind.

    The students of Oberlin and other colleges are being laughed at around the world. We must pay our respects to them for the way they stick to their principles in the face of this adversity.

  46. R Hawkins on December 20th, 2015 3:26 PM

    There’s such as thing as being sensitive to microaggressions and such a thing as being over-sensitive. I’m sure Oberlin students never eat at Chipotle. Oh the hypocrisy.

  47. Rick Speicher on December 20th, 2015 3:28 PM

    Oberlin,is getting some considerable national attention because of this “controversy.” And not in a good way.

  48. Stilton Covington on December 20th, 2015 4:50 PM

    Oberlin is the absolute best.

  49. Chris Larsen on December 20th, 2015 6:05 PM

    “51 percent of students in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade in the 2012-2013 school year were eligible for the federal program that provides free and reduced-price lunches.” (Washington Post)

    And you’re complaining that the sushi isn’t good enough?

    Have you no shame?

    Why don’t you, the entitled students of Oberlin, use the power of protest to help others?

  50. Branden on December 20th, 2015 7:29 PM

    For the culturally sensitive, it might be worth pointing out that General Tsao’s chicken (fried, boiled, baked or otherwise) does not resemble any authentic traditional Chinese food, no matter what type of rice you serve it with. In fact, I recently spent two weeks in Beijing and Shanghai in very formal and informal settings. Not once was I served rice. At all. Ever.

  51. MichaelWH on December 23rd, 2015 1:21 AM

    Sorry, Branden, but I call shenanigans.

    I’ve spent the last fifteen years of my life here in China, and have eaten everywhere from people’s homes to high-level banquets. There is *always* rice except in some very specific regions to the north and northeast. (Hint: not Beijing.) In those places you have to ask if you want rice. (It will be there, just not by default.) Perhaps you are confusing the fact that in dinners with honoured guests and at banquets rice is served at the end, at the diners’ option, as a “main dish” (what you and I would call a “staple”) instead of with the meal?

    I bow to your two weeks’ experience, though. Obviously you know more. This despite the fact you couldn’t get 左宗棠’s name transliterated correctly in any form of latinization…

  52. Joseph on December 20th, 2015 7:43 PM

    Donald Trump gets supporters because of stupid, STUPID things like this. I am not maligning the supporters; rather, their searching-for-a-problem brand of liberal progressivism. This is not cultural appropriation unless you want it to be.

  53. Ross on December 20th, 2015 8:23 PM

    Regarding the “appropriation” of the Bahn Mi sandwich – wasn’t the sandwich invented by the Earl of Sandwich in England?

  54. MichaelWH on December 23rd, 2015 1:27 AM

    No. Unless you mean putting specifically a piece of meat between specifically two slices of bread as the only expression of a sandwich, the notion of some form of sandwich (using rolled flatbreads or cut, but not sliced, loaves) predates ENGLAND, not to mention one particular Earl.

  55. Brandon on December 20th, 2015 8:51 PM

    Banh mi was culturally appropriated from the French.

  56. j on December 20th, 2015 10:53 PM

    Is eating corn appropriating native culture?

  57. Robert Kriegar on December 21st, 2015 12:07 AM

    Except that foods labeled with a nationality are not appropriative. They are inappropriative. Ask the French. Nice try, though.

  58. Robert Kriegar on December 21st, 2015 12:11 AM

    Although I do completely support the free exchange of ideas that SHOULD be present in all academic settings, and is not, this is just a wee bit over the top.

  59. T Paul on December 21st, 2015 12:34 AM

    These students better not visit Toronto Canada. the most multicultural city in North America. they would be very offended. Most of our thousands of pizzerias, a few with bad pizza, are not run by Italians. …Hot Dog stands are manned by first generation Canadians, one came from India, the Hot dog was fine, not perfect but fine, I had idea that this was offensive…….I ate a hamburger in Greece many years ago. They had the audacity to put it in a pitta bread, and not a bun. AND STILL CALL IT A HAMBURGER!! I had no idea I was supposed to be offended at that as well. ….It seems Oberlin College needs to provide a day care with cribs. Food provided should be north American Kraft Dinner, served by a third generation American who mixed it right (they would have the most experience.), this will ensure the safe zone can be unoffended.

  60. Will on December 21st, 2015 1:21 AM

    Has it occurred to any of these students that this is just the cafeteria contractor being cheap and lazy and has nothing to do with ‘cultural appropriation’? If you want to complain about them, and by extension the College, being cheap and lazy though, I’m totally with you on that.

  61. I'm liberal af but this is too much on December 21st, 2015 2:25 AM

    Dudes. Dudes. Dudes. It’s cafeteria food. newsflash, you’re not being oppressed, this is not a micro aggression. All cafeteria food is shitty. Welcome to college.

    I’m literally on a Korean Air flight getting ready to take off back to the states. They better not culturally misappropriate the pasta by serving it not al dente or I’m going to sue.

  62. John K on December 21st, 2015 3:46 AM

    Okay, first of all, General Tso’s chicken is not even a traditional Chinese food. The decidedly Chinese-AMERICAN dish has been imported BACK to China after it gained so much popularity. Miss Prudence is either very confused, or is full of bull manures.

    Second, I’m not sure what Ms. Joshi was expecting, but “the undercooked rice and lack of fresh fish” is the very definition of sushi in America – our most popular sushi dish is *California* roll, for crying out loud. And while there are high-tier, top quality sushi restaurants in Japan, the country is also littered with low-quality, low-price sushi restaurants that closely resemble ours. They also have convenience store sushi (quality that matches up with the sushi you can buy at your local grocery stores), so again I don’t know what she’s complaining about exactly. Was she expecting Jiro Ono behind her school’s cafeteria making sushi?

    As a Korean, I laugh in condescension whenever I see “Kimchi” at Safeway or “Spicy Korean Chicken” at Pei Wei. In fact, the school I went to also had CDS for food, and what they did with bulgogi (beef teriyaki is what they really made) and bibimbop (they basically made a salad bowl with some rice in it) was quite atrocious. But what CDS did was an oppression of my taste buds (and I will never forgive them), not an oppression of Korean culture.

    Crummy attempts at making your culture’s food by a corporation shouldn’t make you think you’re being oppressed. Laugh at their puny, pathetic attempts to imitate the superiority of your culture’s cuisine over America’s (the land of indistinguishable meat log and baked cheese and cream with random stuff in it.), and feel the smugness as you’re reminded that you’ve tasted something that your classmates didn’t get to experience thanks to CDS.

  63. Tom on December 21st, 2015 8:00 AM

    Maybe they could step up and make the food right instead of complaining? Nobody is stopping you from helping out in the cafeteria, I’m sure.

    It’s funny to read the news and see how grievance culture is coming home to roost at American universities. I won’t hire young graduates anymore, unless they went to university overseas or a school like Liberty University.

  64. crazywater on December 21st, 2015 9:21 AM

    These are not the droids you are looking for…

  65. S on December 21st, 2015 11:36 AM

    What is “genuinely authentic Chinese sushi”? Or is that your point?

  66. Gone Viral on December 21st, 2015 12:14 PM

    This story has gone viral yet only 9 responses here? That can’t be right…

  67. Ken on December 21st, 2015 12:15 PM

    Ohhhhh the first world problems just never end… How about this… Hamburgers, hot dogs and French fries sitting under a heat lamp for hours served three times a day…
    I weep openly for the future…

  68. John on December 21st, 2015 1:31 PM

    As my mother used to tell me…..You don’t like the food? Then you’re not hungry.

    As her mother told her growing up…..wish in one hand and poop in the other and see which one you fill up first!

    People are free in this country to do many things. One of them is you’re free to leave if you’re not happy. Otherwise I suggest you suck it up.

  69. rriverstone on December 21st, 2015 3:12 PM

    These kids don’t give a CRAP about the actual workers of Color who prepared, grew, harvested the foods! They’re just being food snobs. Fusion cuisine is nothing new and is NOT appropriation!
    There’s a LOT of reactionary garbage, started with William F. Buckley’s rag, sneering at food appropriation and THIS is how they’ve redefined it. And these stupid COLLEGE KIDS BELIEVE IT!! It is NOT the argument! Here’s some stuff from the article Buckley’s rag was citing.
    QUOTE: One way that food can be appropriated is by making it difficult for those of the culture from which it stems to gain access to it. For example, quinoa has become very popular outside its native home of Bolivia, but with that popularity comes a price to the Bolivian people that what was a staple of their diet is now too expensive for them to eat……
    Another way that I feel food can be appropriated is by fetishizing it, especially when it includes commercializing it. Privileged white people who visit an “exotic” country and learn all they can about the local cuisine, only to come home and write best-selling books, appear on Martha Stewart, and eventually parlay the experience into their own television deal are a good example of this. Haven’t you ever wondered why the food stations are so overwhelmingly pale even as “festive” and “steamy” meals from “far-away lands” are being cooked up using modern technology? How much of that money do you think makes it back into the hands of the people who generously shared their family recipes with the soon-to-be celebrity chef? When the “experts” of our food are people from outside our communities, that is a form of appropriation./quote
    IN OTHER WORDS, as usual, STEALING from POC for personal benefit, causing them deprivation, cashing in on stuff as an “expert,” when it’s not even your gig!

  70. AA on December 21st, 2015 5:02 PM

    If you want an authentic “fill in whatever ethnicity” dish, then you would logically get it from the country of origin. Mexicans don’t picket Taco Bell, Chinese people don’t protest Panda Express, and I don’t see Italians getting up in arms about Olive Garden, Pizza Hut, or Dominos. Sometimes (read: nearly always) cafeterias put out poor imitation food, whatever the style. You’re supposed to get use to that as a college student. Or, you know, buy your own groceries, make your own food, and quit complaining.

  71. GRA on December 21st, 2015 6:14 PM

    As someone who is of Asian descent, I can see how this may be offensive. But c’mon. It’s just an Americanized way of the real thing. It’s not racist. It’s not demeaning. If I was in the cafeteria and saw that sushi burrito I’d probably try it and quietly say to myself, right before I take a bite, “Silly Americans.” I’d then enjoy it.

    What’s amusing about Nguyen’s issue is that McDonald did not ask the American public if it can change it’s menu in order to assimilate itself into foreign lands. A Japanese McDonald’s menu will cater towards its Japanese demographic. Even cars made my the same company, say Honda, have different cars depending on the region. The style of the Honda sold in the Philippines will be different than the style sold in the US.

    And this case, it’s a college cafeteria trying to include other things besides burgers and fries.

  72. Sabalom Glitz on December 22nd, 2015 10:32 AM

    The most boring thing I saw oversees was Burger King in Cardiff Wales that I had been to 3 years earlier and had a thoroughly British Menu was now serving an Entirely American Menu that could have been bought from the Burger King down the street from me. Now that’s Misappropriation! 🙂

  73. Christian Hanson on December 21st, 2015 6:22 PM

    So it’s cultural appropriation because they’re not using fresh fish and the rice is undercooked? I understand the amount of artistry that goes into sushi and honestly as an artist that’s one of the reasons I love it but to take offense to the face the sushi sucks? I’m sorry you’re full of it. 30% of all sushi served in Japan has been frozen, I’ve been interested in sushi for years but if you really want a source here’s a Nytimes article that mentions it

    Completely forgetting that it’s also illegal to serve uncooked or unfrozen fish in the States, no society on Earth has not “appropriated” or borrowed something from another culture. Nothing in life is original, and I take more offense to the fact that kids getting degrees don’t realize this basic fact than anything else.

  74. Mark on December 21st, 2015 8:27 PM

    What Tomoyo Joshi fails to mention regarding sushi is that it’s not necessarily about fresh fish. If there’s an issue with the rice, then make mention of it so they can fix it. However, the use of fresh (or raw) fish, while it may be characteristic of edomae-zushi (the ball of rice with the topping over it which has its origins in the Tokyo area), it is not necessarily representative of the wide regional varieties of sushi that exist in Japan, and therefore not by any means disrespectful. There are a great number of regional varieties that don’t even have to include fish or seafood at all (inari-zushi, Kansai chirashi, a large number of maki-zushi) that Tomoyo can explore upon a return trip home to Japan. A thorough trip through just about any food section in the basement of a major department store over there should suffice. If anything, Tomoyo may be exhibiting disrespect by showing a regionalist bias toward one local interpretation of Japanese cuisine over another.

  75. so embarrased on December 21st, 2015 8:32 PM

    This is really, really embarrassing. Understand being young, understand wanting to be a part of revolution and change. This, however, is not even peculiar hill to die on–it’s not a hill.

    General Tso Chicken was invented by Chinese immigrants in NYC (and spread like wildfire among Chinese immigrants across north america) as a way to placate blander, (white) american palates after the initial buzz of chop suey had died down.

    Like…y’all are shutting down crying about the cultural authenticity of a dish that was created to essentially be chicken mcnuggets for unadventurous american eaters.

    I’m sure the massive corporation serving slop at your college is just as bad as it was at mine, but i sure feel horrible for the chefs that go in every day to grind out a living and feed y’all.

  76. Ptedc on December 22nd, 2015 12:01 AM

    ““It’s important to us that students feel comfortable when they are here,” Gross said.

    That statement represents everything that is wrong with college life in America today.

    The job of a college is to make young adults feel a little uncomfortable. Outside of their comfort zone is a GOOD thing. It’s almost really what college is all about.

  77. Gordon Hilgers on December 22nd, 2015 3:35 PM

    When I was in college, we had various styles of chicken every single day of the week. Why? Because chicken at that time was inexpensive. We understood this, even though at times it seemed unbearable to eat chicken all the time. The cafeteria served approximately 9,000 people three times a day. No one starved. I was not being taught to be a gourmet anyway. Here’s an interesting story about off-campus eating that seems pertinent:

    Up the street, a really good Tex-Mex restaurant had been taken-over by refugees from the Vietnam war. We were happy this family had so quickly found a business and was living in America. When a young girl waiting our table asked us, “You want another Doctl Pepple?” I found this so charming I gave her a twenty-dollar bill.

    America = melting pot = no “national” food repertoire

  78. Zipang on December 23rd, 2015 4:36 AM

    I am Japanese and don’t understand why Tomoyo is so upset.
    In Japan, there are many arranged foreign foods.
    In most cases, I like them better than the originals.
    But for foreign people, they might not like the arranged version.
    However, I never see them complaining about the arranged foods.

    To become a sushi chef (Itamae), it takes years.

    What does she expect from cafeteria cooks?
    She should go to a sushi restaurant instead of a cafeteria at the university.

    Or someone might said to her that Sushi is not good instead of THIS SUSHI.
    So, she complained this is not real Sushi.
    Otherwise, I don’t understand this.

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