Leave it to today’s Left to take something as inoffensive as a salad and riff on it as a sign of racism and cultural appropriation in the New York Times. (Heck, leave it to the Times to devote space to such an article.)
But that’s what happened when writer Bonnie Tsui went to a restaurant and found an Asian Salad on a menu. Good grief, you’d think Americans looked at all Asians as Mr. Yunioshi the way she carries on:
The “Asian Emperor Salad,” with its “31 ingredients representing the tastes, textures and flavors of Asia,” stirred something other than hunger in me.
I tried to identify exactly what that was. I made a halfhearted joke to my husband about just which Asian emperor this salad was honoring. I thought about its grand imprecision, which irritated me as a Chinese-American. And I wondered, who cooked up this thing?
I was reasonably sure it wasn’t anyone Asian, but I did some investigating to find out.
Tsui makes the argument that, because Chinese people eat their vegetables cooked, salads cannot be Asian. For what it’s worth, one commenter took issue with Tsui:
Oh dear. I was with her until the point where she collapsed Chinese people cook vegetables into Asians don’t eat salad. Laos, Burma, Thailand, Vietnam – I guess their (delicious) salads don’t count.
But in Tsui’s eyes, the Asian salad is some sort of cultural appropriation. The truth of the matter is that American chefs have appropriated foods of other cultures and made them something – well, more American that what they started out as. Spaghetti and meatballs? Not exactly Italian. Nachos? They were invented in Mexico, but by a Mexican-American chef who whipped them up for American servicemen at a nearby base.
She goes on:
Am I taking this too seriously? [Answer: yes. –CQ] The casual racism of the Asian salad stems from the idea of the exotic — who is and isn’t American is caught up wholesale in its creation. This use of “Oriental” and “Asian” is rooted in the wide-ranging, “all look same” stereotypes of Asian culture that most people don’t really perceive as being racist. It creates a kind of blind spot.
In the ecosystem of the American restaurant menu, the dish checks a box for geographic and flavor diversity outside what company marketers understand to be the norm for their customers. To a white audience, it reads as diverse. To actual Asian-Americans, it reads as ridiculous.
The title of the article poses a question: Why is Asian Salad Still on the Menu? The truth is: Asian salads are actually quite delicious, but nobody in their right mind judges all Asians by them. Don’t like an Asian salad? Don’t eat it.
Bonnie Tsui is simply making a mountain out of a mole hill by taking to the Times to gripe about salad racism, and the Times is complicit in the silliness by giving her a forum to do so. But then again, haven’t we come to expect stuff like this from the Left these days?