Bow-tied chef, Christopher Kimball, the founder of Cook’s Illustrated magazine and the popular public television show America’s Food Kitchen, has started a new venture, Milk Street—a magazine, cooking school, and a television and radio show rivaling what he’s accomplished in the past. The New York Times called him “an intellectual and business powerhouse of American recipes.” It’s true, Mr. Kimball is impressive; he is admired and emulated by home cooks all across America. Which is why I was taken aback by his ‘About’ page on the site, which asserts that “ethnic food is dead.” He writes:
There is no “ethnic” cooking. It’s a myth. It’s just dinner or lunch served somewhere else in the world… Ethnic food is dead; it smacks of the sin of colonialism. This is a culinary—not cultural—exchange.
There are two corrupt ideas at work here: one, that ethnic food is dead; two, that colonialism is or was inherently evil and has no redeeming qualities.
Ethnic food will live for as long as ethnic identities live, and it should. The culinary is embedded in the cultural; it is a product of its surroundings and the creativity and ethos of the peoples living within that physical sphere. Identity is a complex system, as I’ve said before. It is made up of the ties the self has to what generated it, and to whom and what it is related. I, Luma, was created and born into a family, a household, a religion, a culture, a language, and a state. I was a girl, born in Baghdad, Iraq, to two Christian parents, and my first language was Arabic. Milk—in the form of breast milk or formula—may have been what I, and every baby was fed, and in that respect it is universal. But the very next food I tasted was shaped by the culinary practices, which are cultural by nature, of my heritage.
Read the rest at Acculturated