With the rise of recipe bloggers and chefs across social media, including Youtube and TikTok, all kinds of new fusion recipes have become available.
There is some debate over whether these recipes qualify as cultural appropriation or not, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor Pariyama didn’t see the harm in a recent video, where a guy prepared some of his favorite dishes with rice paper and later saw healthy results from the change to his diet, including weight loss.
But when her friend was disappointed in her take on the matter, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if she was missing something.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for defending a white person for using an Asian ingredient the wrong way?”
The OP’s friend shared a video with her via text.
“I’m white (female), and my friend K (male) is Asian.”
“Yesterday he sent me a video of a man using rice paper to wrap up ingredients and portion his diet better.”
The OP shared the TikTok video in a comment:
K was furious about how the TikToker used rice paper.
“K then said he needs to stop white people from wrongly using Vietnamese ingredients for their own interests.”
“I then mentioned that it does sound like a great idea if it works for him, though.”
“K answered, ‘White people SMH (shaking my head), putting chocolate on rice paper, giving it their own white term (the man in the video called it something else), and spreading misinformation about rice paper.”
“K continued, ‘My sister eats more than 2 of those rolls. You will still be hungry after that.'”
“I didn’t understand this seemingly hostile reaction and just said that the guy probably just visited an Asian store, saw it, and then took it home with his own idea in mind. I didn’t see the harm in that.”
The conversation may have harmed their friendship.
“Well since that, K doesn’t seem too fond of me anymore.”
“I don’t know if what I said was racist or offensive. Because to me, using ingredients of other cultures, and also using them ‘the wrong way’ is just a side effect of a multicultural environment. Maybe I’m just wrong, though.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some pointed out that the chef was not culturally appropriating but simply modifying his diet.
“NTA. People not using ingredients the ‘right’ way? Oh no, what a nightmare!”
“In all seriousness, unless the guy in this video was trying to claim that this is an ‘authentic’ Vietnamese/Asian thing, K is just being ridiculous.” – MythicalBeast45
“The other half of cultural appropriation is when people take actual dishes made by a certain culture and market/present them as something new and unique.”
“As the dude was doing neither, OP was NTA.” – ZealousIdeal_Radio80
“A lot of food variations happened because when immigrants came over, they didn’t find all the same ingredients they did back home, so they had to adapt and change and through the years it became an entirely new thing with its own beauty and history.”
“I don’t see the problem with people using specific ingredients differently from their classic usage, as long as they are not being disrespectful. NTA.” – PPSM7
“I think K would be really upset, my local Multi-Asian restaurant, with a Vietnamese chef, has these gorgeous desserts he calls ‘Chocolate Springrolls.’ The Chinese chef makes an interesting chocolate tofu dessert, while the Japanese chef makes strawberry and chocolate steam buns…”
“I also follow a lovely Chinese lady who has created burgers in her mountain home, and even hotdogs, and other Western dishes, even though she is in the Chinese mountains, deep cultural differences in recipes, yet I never see them because accused of cultural appropriation.”
“NTA, OP.” – OriginalDogeStar
“So I guess K would think breakfast burritos and sandwich wraps are an egregious misuse of tortillas?” – freshmountainbreeze
“I’m Italian and we all enjoy getting overly offended at how people cook Italian dishes for the memes. But as long as you don’t claim that your way is the ‘right’ way, who cares???” – sleepyplatipus
“I’m Asian… I likely have misused rice papers in numerous ways. I suppose my ancestors and K would be very ashamed of me.”
“IDK (I don’t know) what’s wrong with K, but it sounds like he’s angry and just wants to nitpick something out of anger. Unless the person on the video is not trying to mislead viewers by claiming it’s a certain Asian dish, then I don’t see anything wrong with using rice papers for other purposes.”
“NTA.” – tmchd
“NTA. Yes, it’s important for people to preserve culture and history and everything that comes with it. It’d be great if everyone was educated on everything, but that doesn’t mean you should only ever eat original dishes. How much less variety would we have if we didn’t exchange ideas/traditions/culture and so on?”
“There’s nothing wrong with using ingredients from staple dishes to create something new, as long as the person doesn’t pretend they’re the only ones who could have thought of it, IMO (in my opinion).” – Brilliant_Ad7168
“NTA. He’s trying to claim cultural appropriation. But the guy in the video doesn’t sound like he’s being anything but positive about the uses of rice paper and isn’t claiming that what he’s using it for is how it should be used. So it’s fine. It’s literally food.”
“I experimented a lot with cooking and adapted a lot of recipes when I’ve not been able to find the ingredients. Nothing wrong with then finding something you like.” – baybe123
Others pointed out that different countries have their own purposes for ingredients.
“You should see what Koreans in Korea do to pizza.”
“In Seoul 2022: ‘Pizza Hut Korea’s fall release, the Star Edge Pizza, is shaped like a multi-pointed celestial body with the points crammed full of cinnamon apple nut or cranberry-flavored cream cheese, and a surf and turf topping of sausage, shrimp, calamari, bacon, steak topping, and broccoli.'”
“I s**t you not… and this pizza might not even be the weirdest mix.” – Minkiemink
“In Japan, they like potato salad on their pizza. We were there once, and the relatives were so excited to bring us ‘authentic American food.’ Our kids wouldn’t touch it and I had to gag some down to be polite.” – Sapphyrre
“I lived in Asia for 15 years, (just moved to Sweden), and EVERYWHERE that claims the food is ‘American’ is wrong.”
“None of it is remotely like food in the states because they use different cooking methods and ingredients.”
“K sounds like he needs to travel more and stop gatekeeping (checks notes) rice paper?”
“Does he know that the French brought the baguette to Vietnam and that is now why one of their most famous foods is the banh mi? They are totally using that bread wrong if his reasoning was sound.” – FloptimasPloptimas
“In Brazil we use rice paper to put on birthday cakes, I’m not sure how it’s done, but they somehow print images on it, and it’s put on top of the cake as decoration (like Peppa, Disney princess, Ben 10, things like that). NTA.” – nalutard
“I feel like if your food has been universally recognized as excellent it sort of stops being ‘owned’ by the culture, outside some really specific varieties.”
“Like, don’t lie about your imitation product coming from an expensive and highly regulated region, but the time has passed for anybody to ‘own’ baguettes, they are too good and now belong to the world.”
“There are a bunch of places in Italy that make the best pasta, but also everybody now makes and eats pasta because pasta is f**king amazing. Society could fully collapse and people will still be making or attempting to make pasta.” – mcl885
“Also, as an Asian who migrated to another country, I love it when people get creative with ingredients from other countries.”
“The more those ingredients become popular, the more likely they’ll become available in the local supermarket so I don’t have to hunt them down at specialty stores anymore.” – Kiruna235
“NTA, it’s one thing to be annoyed if someone makes a national dish incorrectly, but gatekeeping ingredients is stupid since so many ingredients are used across multiple cultures for different purposes.” – Urbanyeti0
“NTA. OOF. Using ingredients ‘wrong’ is how we got half the dishes that exist in this crazy world of ours.”
“Should we acknowledge where some of these things come from? Sure. But should we throw out our Tex-Mex, American-style sushi, orange chicken, pizza, and chicken-fried steak too because they’re not ‘authentic’ versions of the dishes that inspired them?”
“Humans learn from one another and make new things from old based on available ingredients. Is that so wrong?” – jolting_javelin
“NTA. I’m Asian and don’t give a f**k what you want to do with Asian recipes/ingredients as long as you don’t claim to have ‘discovered’ a dish that already exists in our culture.”
“If anything, the amalgamation of ingredients and recipes between different cultures is exactly how we get new dishes. Heck, I saw a video just yesterday of a Chinese girl who discovered she could use pizza dough as a ready-made alternative to making her own dumpling dough.”
“K just seems to be unnecessarily easily triggered and defensive for no reason.” – Ristique
The subReddit understood the OP’s confusion and her thoughts on this video being harmless. Since the creator of the video did not suggest that they had created a new dish, and simply were using rice paper in a different way for their diet, it hardly seemed to be a problem.
It’s unfortunate if the video somehow impacted their friendship, however.