This is in response to the Kooks Burritos fiasco / debate in Portland.
In this globalised world, when is it really cultural appropriation? I think a lot of the commentary misses the point. Personally, I believe the root of this discontent is really about credit.
The stories of borrowing and apprenticeship from each other's cultures happen all the time. It's inevitable as cultures meet and interact. I mean, tempura is really Portugal's gift to Japan. However, if the dominant culture of the time adopts and adapts from other (non-majority) cultures and receives pats on backs for their ingenuity, questions of appropriation and erasure will eventually arise. The lack of acknowledgement and sometimes, careless neglect of the source is the problem. Dominant, often Caucasian American, discourse often praises the innovative white chef but chefs of colour are merely presenting what they are supposed to know. These food writers, critics and connoisseurs will fetishsize the “other,” wide-eyed and extolling exotic (often ethnic) cuisines whilst in the same breath, laud white chefs for innovating. To be sure, the focus of a non-white, non-majority cook is his/her ethnicity/heritage/culture/authenticity (delete accordingly) but the white cook is described as radical, innovative and enterprising.
So yes, be angry if you want. But let's be pissed for the right reasons.