Recommended by Ricochet Members Created with Sketch. Friday Food and Drink Post: Cultural Appropriation Edition

 

The topic for this week’s post was inspired by Ricochet member @janbear, and the following fine paragraph from her September 25 post about the media meltdown surrounding Donald Trump’s phone call with the President of Ukraine. (Whatever his name is. “Z” something. Just like me):

Why not speculate on a different hypothetical situation? “The whistleblower says the Ukrainian president gave President Trump his grandmother’s recipe for pierogi. If true, that would be cultural appropriation.” At least it’s creative. Much better than trying to strain bites of truth from the sewage of the Democrat media reports.

As many of you know, I’m a true-blue, green-card carrying Brit, married to a man of 100% Polish extraction. I grew up in West Africa, and have lived most of my life in the United States. Cooking is one of my many hobbies, and I’m good at it (or so I’ve been told); but, to quote Socrates,”the unexamined life is not worth living,” so I have spent the last twenty-four hours examining my recipe boxes (pictured), and finding them seriously problematic and disturbing.

And now it is time for me to confess. To give what we, in this household, call “The Dobby Speech,” after the pathetic little house-elf in the Harry Potter books who’s always weeping copiously, pointlessly blaming himself for whatever happens (most of which he had nothing to do with), and banging his head against the wall.

My recipe boxes are a cesspool of cultural appropriation. Half of the cards in them are from my mother-in-law. I stole them from her after she died. I suppose I should have buried them with her, or perhaps burned them all as a mark of respect. Instead, we have been enjoying her pierogies, kielbasa, kiszka, Christmas holly cookies, and a family favorite she called “red steak and gravy” (perhaps not so culturally appropriative, those last two) without her for the past twelve years. Greedy. Selfish. Shameful. Woe is me. (Shouldn’t that be “woe is I?” @kentforrester? @arahant?)

Then, there are the cards and torn-out pieces of newspapers and magazines that I’ve accumulated from my lifelong efforts to re-create the flavors and smells of my childhood, of places I’ve traveled, of foods I’ve savored and wanted to share: Jollof rice, groundnut chop, poutine, green papaya salad, macaron, balti, tiramisu. And the weird things (I know, spoken from a place of cultural superiority and certain privilege) that can sometimes be found in my refrigerator after one of my trips to the ethnic food shops in Pittsburgh’s Strip District (no, not that kind of “strip”). Things that look, and smell, like they might be rotten but, actually, aren’t. Things that those who love me immediately throw out when they come across them, because they’re afraid of them, and they’re sure I can’t possibly know what they are, or that they’re even there, or that if I ever did, I forgot about them long ago.

And the things I grow because I either can’t buy them fresh, or because they’re so expensive when I do find them: kaffir lime, sundry hot peppers, unusual vegetables I’ll try at least once, all sorts of herbs, any odd ingredient, native to anywhere, that catches my fancy and that might thrive in the garden, even if just for the season.

Don’t you think it’s time you checked your own food privilege, and admitted your favorite guilty pleasure of a culinary specialty you stole from another culture and which you have no right to eat, let alone enjoy? Please share your favorites, and include a recipe if you have one. “Privilege shared, is privilege halved,” as they say. You’ll feel better, and it will go a long way towards mitigating your sin.

Meanwhile, I’m off somewhere to bang my head against the wall. After that bit of self-correction, perhaps I’ll assay a nice meal of tripe and onions, followed by spotted dick. Pretty safe, I think. Anyone care to join me?

Bon Appetit! (Whoops.)

PS: To get started–Grandma’s Pierogi Recipe:

2 cups flour (about 8 oz)
2 eggs
Lukewarm water

Mix flour and eggs, then add water, a spoonful or so at a time until you have a firm dough. Knead till smooth (I usually bung it in the old Kitchenaid and let it rip with the dough hook for about five minutes. Not authentic, but it works.)

Divide into two parts, and roll each into a long rectangle on a floured board. Put heaped teaspoons of filling along one edge, a couple of inches apart. Fold the other long edge over top, and press down with your fingers in between and at the ends to make little dough pockets.

Now, here’s the trick: take a glass, and cut out the pierogi with the glass. Or, you can use a knife, and then primp the edges with a fork. Glass is easier, and I have fewer leaks when I do it that way. Take the remaining dough from both pieces, clump together and roll out again.

Cook in boiling water for a couple of minutes till they float to the top. We like to saute them in butter (with some onions); some people prefer them just boiled.

Fillings: mashed potato with grated cheese mixed in; sauerkraut; ricotta or pot cheese mixed with an egg yolk and some diced, sauteed onion if you like it; shredded cabbage boiled for a couple of minutes, then sauteed with chopped onions and mushrooms; you can also fill with fruit–cherries, blackberries, or with homemade apple butter.

We usually make them with mashed potato and onion filling, and fry in butter with some onions until golden. After the main course (wherein they usually accompany kielbasa and sauerkraut) we have pierogies for dessert, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. They are surprisingly good this way.

Pro Tip: Keep the filling as dry as possible. Those made with ricotta or pot cheese may get a bit wet; if that happens, drain before putting it on the dough.

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There are 47 comments.

  1. Susan Quinn Contributor

    This post was especially fun! But now I’m hungry again and I just had breakfast!

    • #1
    • September 27, 2019, at 5:59 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Can we cite cultural dis-appropriation? Where we deliberately swear off certain cultural recipes due to their reputation?

    I’m thinking here of Lutefisk.

    • #2
    • September 27, 2019, at 6:00 AM PDT
    • 14 likes
  3. EODmom Coolidge

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Can we cite cultural dis-appropriation? Where we deliberately swear off certain cultural recipes due to their reputation?

    I’m thinking here of Lutefisk.

    Shark fin soup. Not just reputation- direct, personal experiences. But never again. 

    • #3
    • September 27, 2019, at 6:02 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    There’s a simple compromise. Your children are half-Polish. They may use half the ingredients of any Polish recipe. 

    The English are wicked colonizers and imperials, so their recipes are up for grabs. That is, if the English even have recipes of their own. A Frenchman told me English food is offal.

    • #4
    • September 27, 2019, at 6:24 AM PDT
    • 8 likes
  5. Juliana Member

    My Hungarian mother-in-law gave me the recipe for her seven layer Dobos (pronounced dobosh) Torte. It’s a thin sponge cake with a light chocolate frosting (mixed with an egg yolk which makes it a little salty) inside and a dark chocolate frosting on the outside, chopped walnuts on top. I don’t make the seven round layers because I never had seven pans and only six would fit into my oven anyway. I make it rectangular by using two very large jelly roll pans. It’s still only six layers, but it’s requested often. Sorry – don’t have the recipe with me.

    In a little of cross-cultural appropriation, my mother-in-law’s sister gave me her recipe for Italian spaghetti sauce. Because I have made it so many times, I no longer measure anything but this is sort of how it goes.

    Have a crock pot ready to go. Saute chopped onion, garlic, mushrooms and green pepper in butter (or olive oil, or bacon grease). When cooked, put into warming crock pot. Add 1 lb of ground beef to same pan and brown. Remove grease as the beef is browning and then mix in basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes. I use dried basil and oregano, so for each I pour out a handful (probably about a tablespoon and a half) and rub it with my hands to crush it into the pan. When the beef is ready, pour into the crock pot. Now add to the beef and veg mixture, 1 large can of tomato puree, 1 can tomato sauce & 1 can tomato paste (I use the ones with the Italian spices), and one large can (10 oz?) V-8 juice. Fill the puree, sauce, and V-8 cans about halfway with water to rinse them out, right into the crock pot. Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar and about a half cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix everything up, cover, but leave the lid cracked open just a bit, and cook on high for about 8 hours. You will want to mix it occasionally. If you don’t allow the steam to escape while it’s cooking, it will be too watery. Let everything sit overnight in the fridge before you use it and freeze whatever you aren’t going to use right away.

    • #5
    • September 27, 2019, at 6:38 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  6. Stina Member

    EODmom (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Can we cite cultural dis-appropriation? Where we deliberately swear off certain cultural recipes due to their reputation?

    I’m thinking here of Lutefisk.

    Shark fin soup. Not just reputation- direct, personal experiences. But never again.

    Grasshopper tacos.

    Except I think I was lied to.

    • #6
    • September 27, 2019, at 6:53 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  7. Kozak Member
    Kozak Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I love the “cultural appropriation” thing. Since pretty much everything technological or scientific is the product of Western Civilization, anyone not of that heritage is not allowed to use anything more advanced than a spear, bow, arrow or ox cart.

    • #7
    • September 27, 2019, at 6:56 AM PDT
    • 10 likes
  8. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Kozak (View Comment):

    I love the “cultural appropriation” thing. Since pretty much everything technological or scientific is the product of Western Civilization, anyone not of that heritage is not allowed to use anything more advanced than a spear, bow, arrow or ox cart*.

    But without the Ox since cattle were domesticated first by Africans.

    • #8
    • September 27, 2019, at 7:28 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  9. Arahant Member

    She: (Shouldn’t that be “woe is I?” @kentforrester? Arahant?)

    Some people will do anything to get eyes on her posts. I’s, too.

    • #9
    • September 27, 2019, at 8:13 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  10. KentForrester Moderator

    She, your post is just totes adorb. (I know my comment doesn’t fit, but I was determined to use my new phrase, which I now totally own.). And it’s not just for geezers who want to come off as hip. I was hip when you still had red hair.

    • #10
    • September 27, 2019, at 8:41 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  11. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Today I’m culturally appropriating a recipe from some evangelicals I know.

    Oatmeal bread:

    1 quart boiling water

    2 C oatmeal

    1 C molasses

    1/4 C butter

    1 Tsp salt

    Combine and pour the boiling water over the top, then stir to mix.

    4 1/2 tsp yeast

    2 tsp sugar

    1 C lukewarm water

    Combine in small bowl and add to oatmeal mixture.

    10 C flour

    Gradually add flour. Let rise in greased bowl, approximately 1 hour, until doubled. Punch down, put in greased pans for about 1 more hour. Preheat to 450 degrees, then bake 15 minutes, reduce heat to 350 and bake 25-35 more minutes. 

    Makes 4 loaves.

    🍞😋

     

    • #11
    • September 27, 2019, at 8:57 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  12. EB Thatcher
    EB

    She: a family favorite she called “red steak and gravy”

    Is this anything like Southern red-eye gravy? You fry up a large slab of country ham. To the drippings, you add some strong black coffee. The resulting thin sauce is the red-eye gravy which is served over grits or biscuits or whatever you want.

    I personally don’t care for country ham – too strong and salty. But you can make the same gravy with regular ham as well. It will be a little milder.

    • #12
    • September 27, 2019, at 9:04 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    A Frenchman told me English food is offal.

    That’s rich from people who eat every organ (or used to.)

    • #13
    • September 27, 2019, at 9:06 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  14. Arahant Member

    EB (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    A Frenchman told me English food is offal.

    That’s rich from people who eat every organ (or used to.)

    I think he was attempting a pun there (without a license).

    • #14
    • September 27, 2019, at 9:09 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  15. EB Thatcher
    EB

    Arahant (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    A Frenchman told me English food is offal.

    That’s rich from people who eat every organ (or used to.)

    I think he was attempting a pun there (without a license).

    Or maybe even irony?

     

    • #15
    • September 27, 2019, at 9:27 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  16. Arahant Member

    EB (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    A Frenchman told me English food is offal.

    That’s rich from people who eat every organ (or used to.)

    I think he was attempting a pun there (without a license).

    Or maybe even irony?

    No, this is about cooking. @she has not put up an ironing post.

    • #16
    • September 27, 2019, at 9:29 AM PDT
    • 6 likes
  17. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    A Frenchman told me English food is offal.

    That’s rich from people who eat every organ (or used to.)

    I think he was attempting a pun there (without a license).

    Or maybe even irony?

    No, this is about cooking. @she has not put up an ironing post.

    Though she might put up a few fence posts to defend her nation from the Puns.

    • #17
    • September 27, 2019, at 10:09 AM PDT
    • 9 likes
  18. Arahant Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    Though she might put up a few fence posts to defend her nation from the Puns.

    It will take more active defenses than a few fence posts. Machine gun emplacements, maybe some heavy artillery, rail guns…

    • #18
    • September 27, 2019, at 10:14 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  19. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I don’t have a fence post, but I could write a post post.

    I was helping Wednesday at a community playground build. I manned a shovel and tamping tools putting 16-foot posts into already-dug holes. After 4 hours all of us could barely move.

    • #19
    • September 27, 2019, at 10:17 AM PDT
    • 7 likes
  20. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    There’s a simple compromise. Your children are half-Polish. They may use half the ingredients of any Polish recipe.

    That should make for some interesting recipes!

    The English are wicked colonizers and imperials, so their recipes are up for grabs. That is, if the English even have recipes of their own. A Frenchman told me English food is offal.

    Yes, that’s true. Covered here: https://ricochet.com/593450/archives/friday-food-and-drink-post-ugh-thats-just-offal/

     

    • #20
    • September 27, 2019, at 10:51 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  21. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Juliana (View Comment):

    My Hungarian mother-in-law gave me the recipe for her seven layer Dobos (pronounced dobosh) Torte. It’s a thin sponge cake with a light chocolate frosting (mixed with an egg yolk which makes it a little salty) inside and a dark chocolate frosting on the outside, chopped walnuts on top. I don’t make the seven round layers because I never had seven pans and only six would fit into my oven anyway. I make it rectangular by using two very large jelly roll pans. It’s still only six layers, but it’s requested often. Sorry – don’t have the recipe with me.

    In a little of cross-cultural appropriation, my mother-in-law’s sister gave me her recipe for Italian spaghetti sauce. Because I have made it so many times, I no longer measure anything but this is sort of how it goes.

    Have a crock pot ready to go. Saute chopped onion, garlic, mushrooms and green pepper in butter (or olive oil, or bacon grease). When cooked, put into warming crock pot. Add 1 lb of ground beef to same pan and brown. Remove grease as the beef is browning and then mix in basil, oregano, salt, pepper, and some red pepper flakes. I use dried basil and oregano, so for each I pour out a handful (probably about a tablespoon and a half) and rub it with my hands to crush it into the pan. When the beef is ready, pour into the crock pot. Now add to the beef and veg mixture, 1 large can of tomato puree, 1 can tomato sauce & 1 can tomato paste (I use the ones with the Italian spices), and one large can (10 oz?) V-8 juice. Fill the puree, sauce, and V-8 cans about halfway with water to rinse them out, right into the crock pot. Add about 2 tablespoons of sugar and about a half cup of Parmesan cheese. Mix everything up, cover, but leave the lid cracked open just a bit, and cook on high for about 8 hours. You will want to mix it occasionally. If you don’t allow the steam to escape while it’s cooking, it will be too watery. Let everything sit overnight in the fridge before you use it and freeze whatever you aren’t going to use right away.

    Lovely, thanks! That torte sounds awesome!

    • #21
    • September 27, 2019, at 10:52 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  22. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    EB (View Comment):

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):
    A Frenchman told me English food is offal.

    That’s rich from people who eat every organ (or used to.)

    I think he was attempting a pun there (without a license).

    Or maybe even irony?

    No, this is about cooking. @she has not put up an ironing post.

    Yet.

    • #22
    • September 27, 2019, at 10:54 AM PDT
    • 4 likes
  23. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    I don’t have a fence post, but I could write a post post.

    I was helping Wednesday at a community playground build. I manned a shovel and tamping tools putting 16-foot posts into already-dug holes. After 4 hours all of us could barely move.

    Oh, I can so relate. 

    On the subject of the “Fence Post,” it’s here: https://ricochet.com/608628/archives/border-wars/.

    You folks will have to get out of bed very early in the morning to put one over on me.

    • #23
    • September 27, 2019, at 10:57 AM PDT
    • 5 likes
  24. Arahant Member

    She (View Comment):
    You folks will have to get out of bed very early in the morning to put one over on me.

    One what?

    • #24
    • September 27, 2019, at 10:59 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  25. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    You folks will have to get out of bed very early in the morning to put one over on me.

    One what?

    No, What only ever got to second base. She is unlikely to wake up with him.

    • #25
    • September 27, 2019, at 12:21 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  26. CB Toder aka Mama Toad Member
    CB Toder aka Mama Toad Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Can we cite cultural dis-appropriation? Where we deliberately swear off certain cultural recipes due to their reputation?

    I’m thinking here of Lutefisk.

    Only if you also swear off Norwegian waffles. Otherwise, you’re just picking and choosing which aspects you can not appropriate, and as any progressive will tell you, that’s not fair.

    • #26
    • September 27, 2019, at 12:25 PM PDT
    • 5 likes
  27. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Can we cite cultural dis-appropriation? Where we deliberately swear off certain cultural recipes due to their reputation?

    I’m thinking here of Lutefisk.

    Only if you also swear off Norwegian waffles. Otherwise, you’re just picking and choosing which aspects you can not appropriate, and as any progressive will tell you, that’s not fair.

    My grandmother was Swedish! And let me tell you that she wouldn’t give a dratted Norwegian the time of day, thankyouverymuch.

    • #27
    • September 27, 2019, at 12:42 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
  28. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Swedes, Norwegians… They all look alike. They’re white, like hispanics. 

    Cary Grant and Sophia Loren might have claimed “olive” skin. But we all know true olives are black. So that’s black face! 

    Now, why am I craving Oreos?

    • #28
    • September 27, 2019, at 1:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  29. She Reagan
    She Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Aaron Miller (View Comment):

    Arahant (View Comment):

    She (View Comment):
    You folks will have to get out of bed very early in the morning to put one over on me.

    One what?

    No, What only ever got to second base. She is unlikely to wake up with him.

    Glory be. Let’s hope not.

    • #29
    • September 27, 2019, at 1:31 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  30. Richard Finlay Member

    CB Toder aka Mama Toad (View Comment):

    I don’t have a fence post, but I could write a post post.

    I was helping Wednesday at a community playground build. I manned a shovel and tamping tools putting 16-foot posts into already-dug holes. After 4 hours all of us could barely move.

    Erecting fence (especially digging the holes) posts in the summer is one factor that made me realize I was not really suited to farming, no matter how acclimated I was to that environment.

    • #30
    • September 27, 2019, at 1:38 PM PDT
    • 6 likes