Sharing each other’s cultural traditions is one of the best parts of living in a multi-cultural environment. But sometimes people can take their cultural pride a bit too far.
A Brazilian guy on Reddit found himself in this situation when a Chinese friend criticized the traditional Brazilian way he cooks rice. He wasn’t sure about how he handled the conflict, so he went to the AITA (Am I The A**hole subReddit) for perspective.
The Original Poster (OP), who goes by ricedebacle on the site, asked:
“AITA for calling someone racist when they publicly made fun of the way I prepare rice?”
“For context, I’m from Brazil and moved to the US a few years ago for school. In Brazil we have a distinct way of preparing rice. Fry garlic and onion in oil, add in the rice and fry for a few minutes too, before adding in the water.”
“Frying wet rice in oil would obviously be a disaster, so we don’t wash our rice. Nor do we stir it while it cooks, because that makes the rice clump together and mushy; we like our rice loose with none of the grains sticking.”
“A week ago I was making a favorite dish from back home called feijoada, a bean and meat stew served over rice. My friend group really enjoys it and as we’re finally all vaccinated I figured I’d make it and invite them over.”
“I have a newer friend from work, we’ll call her Emily, who’d shown interest in trying this dish. I love sharing my cooking and I wanted to introduce her to the rest of my friend group so I invited her too. Emily is of Chinese descent (this is relevant).”
“Emily arrives as I’m making the sides, including the rice. Emily immediately begins commenting on how I’m preparing it, saying I’m cooking it incorrectly and calling it “white people rice”. I mostly laugh along and go with it, but do explain that this is how Brazilian people prepare rice.”
“Even while we’re all eating, she continued making small comments on my rice, saying that the texture is wrong, and that it tastes strange. I’m a little annoyed, but still going along with it. However, during the meal I check my insta and I see she’s posted a story where she’s swirling a fork through her rice, and then it flips to a video of me eating (I didn’t notice her filming me) with the caption ‘what happens when white people try to make rice’.”
“I confront her about it and ask her to take it down, not only because I’m shoveling food in my mouth in the video like a starved goblin, but also because it’s pretty rude to publicly make fun of someone’s cooking. She refuses, saying it’s just a joke because white people always prepare rice incorrectly.”
“I tell her the way I prepare rice isn’t a white person thing, it’s a Brazilian person thing, and calling the way an entire country prepares a staple of their cuisine ‘incorrect’ is pretty racist.”
“As you can expect, that didn’t go over great with Emily. I kind of regretted saying it as soon as it left my mouth as I don’t think it’s a term to be used lightly, but I was pretty upset.”
“It escalated to a argument between all my friends present, half saying I’m in the right and Emily was being rude, half saying I’m an AH because my calling someone of Chinese descent racist over rice preparation is basically crying ‘reverse racism’ (which btw is not a real thing and was not at all my intention).”
“So Reddit, please pass judgement because my friend group has been arguing about this all week and I don’t know what to think. If I was the AH I’ll gladly apologize to Emily and try and make up.”
Redditors were then asked to judge who was in the wrong in this conflict based on the following categories:
- NTA – Not The A**hole
- YTA – You’re The A**hole
- ESH – Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH – No A**holes Here
And they were nearly all on the same page that Emily was very much in the wrong.
“NTA. Mocking someone’s cooking for Instagram likes after they prepared food for you is rude as hell.” —yesnogoodbye
“Every culture prepares rice differently, Asians don’t hold dominion on how rice should be cooked. What chaps my behind is that she secretly recorded you while eating…..that’s so rude, disrespectful and juvenile…” —hello_friendss
“So rude, Emily sucks! As she is a work colleague you might want to consider how to protect yourself if she gets weird at work. NTA” —FlatwormDangerous
“NTA. Rude as hell all the way around. Posting insulting Instagram of the person who invited you to dinner and cooked you a meal is rude and crude. She made fun in an insulting way, making it racially/ethnically based, about OP’s cooking.”
“She may be naive about how the rest of the world eats, or that rice isn’t ‘owned’ by Chinese people…still doesn’t excuse her criticizing OP’s food to his/her face not once, but repeatedly.” —sailingisgreat
After reading his fellow Redditors’ responses, OP came back with some updates.
“EDIT: Uh, wow guys thanks so much for the responses! I did not expect my silly little rice argument to get so much traction. Thanks for all the helpful advice, despite not replying (my anxiety is a lil rough right now) I’ve read every single one of your comments. To answer a few common questions:”
“1. Can you share your feijoada recipe? Of course! The recipe I use is in portuguese, but here’s a similar one I found online: feijoada recipe. Simmer for at least 5 hours, and use what meats you can find near you!”
“I usually look for a few different kinds of sausage (paio and calabresa are my favorite), smoked thick cut bacon, salted cured beef or pork (be sure to soak overnight!) and any kind of ribs (the meat will slide right off the bone as it cooks).”
“2. Why didn’t you report the insta post and get it taken down? Emily posted to her story which only lasts 24 hours, so the post is already gone. I am upset that she posted it at all, but we don’t have many mutual friends so at least it’s unlikely anyone I know will have seen it.”
“3. Report Emily to HR: This happened over a weekend, not during working hours.”
“I’m going to show this post and the responses to my friends who sided with Emily to try and discuss with them why they felt the need to defend her. I’m not very good at confrontation, so I’m unsure what I’ll say to Emily about all this.”
“We’ve been civil to each other at work this last week and I don’t want to start a bunch of drama because I really like my job. Either way I’ll try and update once there’s a conclusion to the rice debacle.”
Hopefully OP and his friend can get past this conflict.