These girls profited from the Mexican tortilla recipe without giving anything in return.
For a couple of years a term has emerged that has caused controversy in all senses, the so-called “cultural appropriation”. Have you heard of this? It seems somewhat complex, but perhaps these burritos clarify the issue for us.
It turns out that Kali Wilgus and Liz Connelly created “Kooks,” a burrito shop in Portlad, Oregon, right after their trip to Puerto Nuevo in Baja California, Mexico.
During their visit in Mexico, they asked each tortilla about the procedure and ingredients to make tortillas. They did this in order to adapt them to make burritos, the star dish for their new restaurant. The business of a lifetime!
Back in Portland, both women made their tortillas through trial and error. They practiced several times until they finally got favorable results and opened Kooks.
They were very successful and sold burritos wholesale. So much so that his great feat was published in the local media. Big mistake! Well, they themselves made it known that the way in which they obtained the recipes was not the most honest.
His statements were enough for many people to qualify his act as a case of cultural appropriation. Some time later, they were forced to close their establishment, as they were accused of stealing the recipe with which they prepared the tortillas for burritos.
Cultural appropriation, what does it consist of?
I explain to you in a theoretical sense what this term means. Someone defined cultural appropriation as: “Taking the intellectual property, traditional knowledge, expressions or cultural artifacts belonging to another culture without permission”, (Lionel Shriver).
The issue becomes more relevant when white people (Americans) adopt cultural symbols to which they are alien, as they decontextualize them and take away their original meaning, without giving credit.
The most serious thing is that these cultural elements are used without having a deep knowledge of them.
In the case of burritos, Kali Wilgus and Liz Connelly stated: “I questioned every lady who made tortillas with the worst Spanish in life and they taught me a little about what they did. But they didn't want to tell us much about the technique. So we spied on them all through their kitchen windows, totally fascinated by how easy they made it look. "
The worst thing about it was that they did not clarify whether they rewarded each lady who shared a little of her knowledge in the art of making tortillas.
Cultural Ambassador or Cultural Appropriation?
In the culinary field it is common to take methods and ingredients from other countries to benefit financially, for many, the Portland burritos was a case of outrage.
The controversy begins when so many mixtures and so many uses of cultural elements are questioned on a global level.
Is eating pizza in Mexico cultural appropriation? Or, dressing up as a Catrina in the United States during Halloween? Getting a Mehndi (henna tattoo) outside of a special occasion like in Hindu culture? Wear Mexican designs in clothing sold in Europe?
The debate on this topic is immense. Some see it as cultural appropriation: a real theft of the culture of another country. Others compare the act to that of a cultural ambassador: a way of expanding and enriching, by mixing or adapting, culture in this globalized world.
It is difficult to combat this situation. The important thing is to treat other cultures as you would like them to treat yours.
So spread the word and defend your culture so that it is known for how beautiful it is. Protect it because it will always be the most valuable thing in our country.
We criticize Trump's racism; But, what walls do we build ?: Bridges Not Walls: The Shameful Frontiers Of Latin America