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07/29/2015

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Chandler Theis

While reading Lavanya Ramanathan's article I found myself hard pressed to find her attempting to tell the reader any other message other than: "All Americans who desire to eat food that originates from another country outside of Europe and titles the food 'ethnic' is coming across as racist." That being the case I could not disagree with the message that Lavanya was attempting to display. In her article Lavanya states that it is not the word itself that bothers her, rather the way it is applied to food originating from the farthest parts of the earth with the most brown skin. As the reader I find myself wondering, Why? To me, it would seem like a very natural thing for an American to find some type of label for a food with this type of origin. After all, is the United States not a country in which a vast majority of its citizens derive from a European decent? Therefore would it not also make sense that the most common types of food in the country would also have a European origin? Ramanathan later uses the example of Neapolitan pizza being every bit as much from a different country as Thai food. And in her own defense she speaks a great deal of truth. However, the problem lies with our nations citizens. As previously stated they derive from these countries that are known for these types of foods, so in every bit of sense it is perfectly understandable that these are not considered foreign, and "ethnic".

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English 100-35

Where to begin.I understand where Chandler is coming from in the sense that most Americans are from Europe so we don't consider European food ethnic, but I still agree with Lavanya. I can see how people from other races would disagree with calling their food "ethnic."

Alex N.

The USA is basically a country of immigrants so "ethnic" food isn't so ethnic because of how traditional foreign cuisines have become in America. Although I agree with Lavanya on how people that don't have foreign ancestry would see ethnic food as ethnic food. Lastly, I believe that Lavanya used the pizza and Thai food as great examples because they are both foreign meals but one has become more common in most American households so they do not view the pizza as an "ethnic" cuisine.

Cheyenne

Ramanathan claims that Americans use the phrase "ethnic food" as a form of racism without acknowledgement, and I have mixed feelings about it. On the one hand, I agree that Americans have been using the phrase as a 'mild' form of racism. On the other hand, I insist that most Americans have not acknowledged the label as racism on other cultures cuisine.

Alessandra

As a Filipino immigrant who has been living in America for roughly ten years I can completely understand where Ramanathan is coming from. The word "ethnic" is also usually tossed together with words like "exotic" which technically means "anything not from the Western side of the world". That meaning in itself is not inherently bad, but over the years dubbing food as "ethnic" carries a negative connotation. The way I see it "ethnic" food is food that comes from places that people grotesquely fetishize. Whether it be Japan or Jamaica, there's this aesthetic some people need to fulfill with things they don't understand from places they don't understand just because it's new (to them) and shiny. It strips foods of their histories and cultural significance and they just become another listed item on "weird foods to try" on Yelp or Zagat. I think the worst part, just like Ramanathan mentioned, is when "fusion" foods are made, like cheesesteak egg rolls, while actual Chinese-owned restaurants are seen as "unsanitary" and "full of health code violations". So when the food is no longer shiny and appealing it's not seen as "ethnic" food, it's seen as dirty immigrant food. If people want to say "ethnic" food they could just name the food's place of origin rather than putting it in this umbrella term for "weird" and "exotic".

Yasmenia

I can see that Lavanya was irritated when she was writing in her paragraph about people need to stop calling immigrant food “ethnic”. I can understand that when people are trying new food for the first time, they will call it ethnic food even I would. She did give examples of food from Thai land, Vietnamese, and Indian to tell people if you have eaten it for so long, it is no longer considered as ethnic food. In America, we have many authentic foods from different countries such as Greece, China, Portuguese, India and many more. People have shared their food and their culture to everyone and also would say that they are Americans just like you and me. I can actually see that others would not consider their food ethnic either, they would say it is American food because it’s part of America itself. The thing that I didn’t understand or agree with is when she mentions that anyone who uses the “ethnic” is some form of racism, I don’t agree to that. I don’t not believe it is a form of racism unless someone is making fun of it in a racist manner. For example, my friend was being picked because she is a Mexican. They told her “Shut up and go eat your rice and beans” which was a form a racism. They used a stereotype of what they believe that Mexicans eat all the time and used it against her. Just the stereotype of black people saying “All black people eat chicken and watermelon.” So I do agree with her on that aspect of her statement. I believe having many different foods from other cultures is an experience that people should try and embrace it. That is what America is about, everyone is unique but still are Americans.

Mel Toth

I do not really agree with Yasmenia’s response about how calling food ethnic should not be racist. I think that the term ethnic in this case of food means something that is from a culture that is not American. When someone calls Thai or Mediterranean food ethnic, it is like they’re calling those foods un-American which can seem derogatory to someone who is Thai but born and raised in America. While this may have been true in the past, I think that today American foods are a mix of every single type of food. America is a nation built on immigrants from different countries and ethnicities, so our food is similarly built on these same qualities. Since Europeans were some of the first settlers, our nation still strongly identifies with European food and culture. But America is changing and our culture is now made up of many other ethnicities. We are no longer all from European ancestry, so I think our food needs to change with that. Ramanathan is arguing that food from all over the globe should no longer be considered ethnic in America because it is just as much a part of our culture as is European food.

Anna S

Lavanya Ramanathan is right that “ethnic food” is being used as a blanket term for any food that people seem to be unfamiliar with, but her claim that “ethnic food” is overarchingly racist is an overreach. Chandler mentions in his comment that it seems natural for an American to attempt to find a label for the type of cuisine that often falls under the ethnic food category such as Indian, Thai, or other Middle Eastern foods. Since much of the United States population is from European descent, it makes sense that European foods would be more recognizable and therefore not be labeled “ethnic”. However, Ramanathan’s point is completely valid that European cuisine is just as “ethnic” as Middle Eastern cuisine. An Italian dish is as much connected to someone’s ethnicity as an Indian dish, but the Indian dish gets the label of ethnic because it is less familiar. Her problem with the word comes in when it is used in a context that makes this “ethnic food” seem lesser than more well-known dishes, almost devaluing a culture with the use of one descriptor. Though I concede that Ramanathan is correct in saying “ethnic food” is used in a way that could be construed as denigrating a culture’s cuisine, I still insist that the way American’s use this word is not intended to be racist.

Anna S

Lavanya Ramanathan is right that “ethnic food” is being used as a blanket term for any food that people seem to be unfamiliar with, but her claim that “ethnic food” is overarchingly racist is an overreach. Chandler mentions in his comment that it seems natural for an American to attempt to find a label for the type of cuisine that often falls under the ethnic food category such as Indian, Thai, or other Middle Eastern foods. Since much of the United States population is from European descent, it makes sense that European foods would be more recognizable and therefore not be labeled “ethnic”. However, Ramanathan’s point is completely valid that European cuisine is just as “ethnic” as Middle Eastern cuisine. An Italian dish is as much connected to someone’s ethnicity as an Indian dish, but the Indian dish gets the label of ethnic because it is less familiar. Her problem with the word comes in when it is used in a context that makes this “ethnic food” seem lesser than more well-known dishes, almost devaluing a culture with the use of one descriptor. Though I concede that Ramanathan is correct in saying “ethnic food” is used in a way that could be construed as denigrating a culture’s cuisine, I still insist that the way American’s use this word is not intended to be racist.

Dan

Its ok.

jenny

When you’re ready to spice up your eating options, try thinking outside the borders and choosing something a bit more ethnic. Along with adding some variety to your mainstay meals, ethnic foods can offer significant benefits like keeping you from dropping dead prematurely.

Priscilla

Yes, isn't ethnic food just anything that you didn't grow up with??

Maya Sony Schwartzwalder

As a Cambodian woman living in a caucasian majority nation, I can strongly relate to the concepts of "ethnicity" portrayed in the western world. Many of those who are less exposed to different cultural amenities tend to mistake our practices as unusual, in both positive and negative ways. There is a reason for feeling intrigued to express ones feelings and trying new things, however I don't believe that labeling this fascination "ethnic" is portrayed to the public in a positive manner. It is true that one may be an immigrant and integrate different traditions into ones culture, however, considering the United States is a culture built by immigrants, all of the world's countries joining together, one may consider all citizens "ethnic." Therefore, all "ethnic" practices, including cooking, are inaccurately labeled, resulting in the discrimination of other cultures being portrayed as "foreign," where in the end we should consider all of these practices as simply human, nothing more and nothing less.

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