Stop Using the Term 'Ethnic Food'

Washington Post writer is tired of the implied diss
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 21, 2015 1:24 PM CDT

(Newser) – It's time to retire the phrase "ethnic food" from our lingo about what we eat, argues Lavanya Ramanathan in the Washington Post. Her main problem with it is in how it gets "selectively" applied "to cuisines that seem the most foreign, often cooked by people with the brownest skin." For some reason, meals such as a "leaf-strewn Nordic cod" escape the label, as if they weren't sufficiently ethnic enough. "We simply give Western European cuisine a pass." The upshot is that the food that does get the label has the general reputation of being cheap and inferior.

It's "always Indian and Thai, Vietnamese and Salvadoran, strip-mall and gas-station eateries and fare so spicy it should be washed down with equal parts water and Pepto-Bismol." Those who indulge think of themselves "adventurous eaters," and Ramanathan is tired of the condescension in food blogs and reviews. "It’s time to stop talking about ethnic food as though we’re Columbus and the cuisines served up by immigrants are ours for the conquering," she writes. "Let us never again blog a lengthy ethnography, no matter how well intentioned, when we visit a pupuseria. In fact, let’s drop the term 'ethnic food' altogether." Click for the full post.

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