When you’re looking for an authentic cultural food experience, a college cafeteria is probably not the first place you’d look. But students at Oberlin College want to change that. Pupils with discerning palettes and sociopolitical concerns have written an op-ed in their college newspaper, the Oberlin Review, complaining about the main dining vendor, Bon Appetit, and its lack of cultural sensitivity and authenticity.
From Banh Mis being served on baguettes with coleslaw to General Tso’s chicken tossed in the wrong sauce, students say that Bon Appetit “has a history of blurring the line between culinary diversity and cultural appropriation by modifying the recipes without respect for certain Asian countries’ cuisines.” These “ethnic” dishes were supposedly added to the menu to diversify the dining hall’s international food options. It should be noted, however, that General Tso’s chicken is an Americanized dish that is only very loosely connected to traditional Hunan cuisine.
The pinnacle of cultural appropriation, according to the students, just might be the sushi which is consistently served with undercooked rice and non-sushi grade fish.
“When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture,” Tomoyo Joshi, a College junior from Japan said. “So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as ‘authentic,’ it is appropriative.”
The students have received mocking backlash for their complaints with The New York Post’s headline snarkily stating, “Students at Lena Dunham’s college offended by lack of fried chicken.” Many dismiss this issue as a first-world problem that would only be a problem at a college where students pay more than $50,000 annually to attend.
Cafeteria food has been crap since its invention...but now it's a PTSD racist triggering life threatening issue at Oberlin.
— Mark Kern (@Grummz) December 19, 2015
I'm crying food aggression next time I order a Santa Fe chicken sandwich and find out it's made with Anaheim chiles. https://t.co/9fZH5fYuKZ
— Emily VanderBush (@EmVanderBush) December 21, 2015