Looking Back: Anthony Bourdain Condemns the Ridiculousness of ‘Cultural Appropriation’

The Associated Press

The late Anthony Bourdain aggressively condemned the concept of “cultural appropriation” during his lifetime.

The late celebrity chef and documentarian Anthony Bourdain traveled around the world experiencing different cuisines at nearly every stop on his journey. Bourdain was more qualified than most to speak on the topic of “cultural appropriation,” especially with regards to the borrowing of culinary ideas and recipes across cultures.

Cultural appropriation has been a popular cultural issue in the United States in the 21st century. Recently, a high school student was lambasted across social media after she wore a prom dress that featured a Chinese style. “My culture is NOT your goddamn prom dress,” user Jeremy Lam wrote. The tweet received over 41,000 retweets and 177,000 likes.

Bourdain spoke about cultural appropriation on Parts Unknown, arguing that “cultural appropriation” is integral to the history of food and its evolution over time. “Look, the story of food is the story of appropriation, of invasion and mixed marriages and war and, you know . . . it constantly changes,” Bourdain said on his show Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown. “You know, what’s authentic anyway?”
Bourdain’s comments were highlighted in a recent Wall Street Journal column entitled “Bourdain vs. the Social-Justice Warriors.” Columnist Elisha Maldonado argued that the reaction to Bourdain’s death suggests that the world agrees with his perspective on “cultural appropriation.”
The reaction to his death suggests the rest of the world agrees. Perhaps the idea of “cultural appropriation” is itself an example of cultural imperialism—part of the social-justice warriors’ effort to assert world-wide ideological supremacy.
When Bourdain took us to places like Libya and Venezuela and West Virginia, he let the locals shine. His vocation was about more than food. It was about people—understanding their cultures and their lives, lifting them up and making their dishes. The anonymous street vendors were culinary geniuses.


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