Students at an American liberal arts college have accused university authorities of “insensitivity” and “cultural appropriation” over the serving of General Tso's chicken, Vietnamese sandwiches and sushi.
A report in the ‘Oberlin Review,’ newspaper of Oberlin College in Ohio, details student angst over the cafeteria’s serving of inauthentic international cuisine, with scholars demanding meetings with campus officials over the outrage.
Complaints against ‘Bon Appétit,’ the college's food management company, include serving undercooked sushi rice, and cooked sushi fish instead of raw; offering General Tso's chicken that was steamed, not fried; selling Vietnamese banh mi with pulled pork rather than grilled and using ciabatta instead of traditional French bread.
“The undercooked rice and lack of fresh fish is disrespectful,” scorned Japanese student Tomoyo Joshi of the sushi bar, decrying the counter as “a culturally appropriative sustenance system.”
“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,” she told the newspaper. “So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as 'authentic,' it is appropriative.”
The sushi also caused disquiet for student Mai Miyagaki, who called for “collaboration with the cultural student [organisations] before starting new stuff like this [the sushi bar].”
Disgusted that a Vietnamese sandwich was being served with coleslaw instead of pickled vegetables, student Diep Nguyn said: “It was ridiculous… how could they just throw out something completely different and label it as another country’s traditional food?”
College officials told the newspaper the dishes were an attempt at nutritional diversity and they would set up a meeting with students in the coming weeks. Oberlin College is best know for being the alma mater of author and actress Lena Dunham.