Last week, Lena Dunham came to the defense of students at her alma mater, Oberlin College. Oberlin is a small liberal arts college in Ohio renowned for its left-leaning activism and eye-popping tuition that comes in at over $55,000 per year. The students’ dismay stems from the dining halls on campus serving “culturally appropriated food”, an apparent atrocity.
At issue is the institution’s interpretation of sushi and banh mi, which is a Vietnamese sandwich served on a baguette and is a signature comfort food of that nation. The Atlantic covered the row late last year, and in an interview with Food & Wine last week, Dunham disagreed with the press’ view of Oberlin students being off-base and described their upset as “right on”. My Vietnamese wife nearly sprained her retinas rolling her eyes.
Without trying to become that old curmudgeon screaming at the kids to get off the lawn, or how we walked uphill in the snow to school, how absurd can this generation get? Having sushi and banh mi served at school is nothing short of amazing. It used to be everyone looked forward to pizza on Fridays, now international cuisine has made its way onto the menu and it’s not only not good enough (for the record, everyone complains about school food), but it now falls into the category of culturally inappropriate, along with wearing bindis and feather headdresses. I believe the term here is gastronomically incorrect.
Time to get a grip you little snowflakes. Otherwise, I suggest we go the distance. As an Italian-American, every Olive Garden must be closed immediately. The food they serve is sacrilegious where my family is concerned, but I don’t mind if people go and gorge on salad, bread sticks, or whatever they think passes for fettuccine alfredo. Don’t even get me started on whatever that sauce was that I had to endure every week from K-12. My Australian friends can’t make heads or tails out of Outback Steakhouse. And then there’s every fast-food Chinese drive-thru, or even every American-style Chinese restaurant for that matter. While delicious and fun, it’s not really Chinese. I’m not willing to give up my pork lo mein, egg rolls, or General Tso’s chicken because someone doesn’t think they’re up to the standards of China.
The whole world borrows and tinkers with cuisine. Sometimes it’s fusion to try and create something new, other times it’s simply to adjust taste for a particular country’s palate. And still other times, it’s simply to adjust taste for a particular country’s palate. It might even be culinary incompetence. However, none if rises to the level of cultural appropriation.
Is this the sort of intellect that a quarter of a million dollar education buys these days? Somebody needs to be hauled off behind the tool shed and get a beating until some semblance of common sense takes root. Whether it’s the students, the parents, or the educators that let it get this far, I can’t answer. The country must dedicate itself to ferreting out the source of this moronic devilry and extinguish it before it’s too late.