I hate the term “ethnic food.” In American society, what is the opposite of ethnic? When walking down the “international” food aisle at your local grocery store, what “ethnic food” really means is food not associated with white people. When we say “ethnic,” it makes the conversation about “us” and “the other,” while simultaneously speaking from a place of condescension. Shouldn’t we also refer to French or Italian food as ethnic if this weren’t true?
I made salmon rolls for a project in my Japanese class when I was 14. This week I spent so much money on Indian-delivery in the span of two days that I forced myself to make aloo gobi and naan. Other than that, I don’t remember ever attempting to cook “ethnic food,” and for the most part have felt intimidated to try. How could I make a truly delicious dish when I have so little knowledge of a culture? When we fail to understand the people who make the food, I just don’t think we have any business in their kitchen.