Americans have become sensitive when it comes to respecting each other’s cultural backgrounds, but do we need to apply a similar mentality when it comes making ethnic foods?
The Oberlin Review, the student newspaper for Oberlin College, recently stirred the pot (cuisine unknown) with a piece discussing how some Asian students feel that many of the dishes provided by Campus Dining Services are “culturally appropriative” and disrespectful to their countries of origin.
One student showed her disgust for a Banh Mi made with ciabatta bread, pulled pork and coleslaw. “It was ridiculous,” the student said. “How could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?” Other students showed equal contempt for poorly made sushi and General Tso’s chicken. The chicken in particular is an interesting target, since a film last year raised questions about whether any version of the dish served in this country was truly Chinese. Although we certainly wouldn’t put in a late night order for the Oberlin version described as “steamed” chicken in “weird” sauce.
For their part, the Oberlin’s CDS said they’re not trying to make anyone unhappy, they’re just trying to diversify student’s options. Michile Gross, director of Business Operations and Dining Services, said they’re looking at ways to fix the issue, including setting up a meeting with student groups to discuss menu choices.
Meanwhile, as born and raised Americans, we're offended by anyone who expects decent food from a college cafeteria period. Those crappy lunches are one of the oldest traditions we have!