Cultural Appropriation

Cultural Appropriation? British TV Chef's 'Jerk Rice' Isn't Jamaican Enough for Critics

"This appropriation needs to stop," says one Labour Party member of Parliament.



British celebrity chef Jamie Oliver is facing accusations of cultural appropriation over a microwavable meal called "Punchy Jerk Rice."

The rice dish, which takes a minute to prepare, mixes "garlic, ginger and jalapeños to create a jerk marinade with attitude." Authentic Jamaican jerk seasoning, on the other hand, uses such ingredients as scotch bonnet peppers and allspice berries. And jerk seasoning is used almost exclusively on meat, while Oliver's microwavable product only includes rice.

Dawn Butler, a Labour Party member of Parliament, accused Oliver on Twitter of appropriating Jamaican culture. Jerk is "not just a word you put before stuff to sell products," wrote Butler, whose parents are Jamaican:

The Jamaican-born British TV chef Rustie Lee isn't impressed either. "I like Jamie, but children might see this and think it's part of our culture. It isn't," Lee tells the Guardian. "I think he's in a whole heap of trouble. Everyone in the Caribbean will be saying: 'Jamie! Nooo!'"

According to British-Jamaican reggae musician Levi Roots, creator of the popular Reggae Reggae jerk sauce, Oliver made a "mistake," though he doesn't think the chef is guilty of cultural appropriation. "I don't think it's that serious," Roots said Monday on Good Morning Britain, though he noted that "you've got to know what jerk is."

While Oliver's "Punchy Jerk Rice" might not taste like authentic Jamaican cuisine, that's no reason to get upset over it. Among Britain's most popular foods are Chinese stir-fry and Indian chicken tikka masala. Does anyone think those dishes haven't evolved over the years to accommodate the British public's culinary tastes? Are those foods prepared exactly the same way in China and India as they are in the U.K.?

Of course not. As Reason's Robby Soave argued in 2015, cultural transformation is a good thing. Taking various parts of different cultures and blending them together is how you create new, often better things. Cultural appropriation can be delicious:

And if Oliver's take on Jamaican cuisine turns out to be terrible? Then no one will buy it. Problem solved.

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  1. I remember when he tried to call some abomination of lobsters and rice “paella”…

    1. Give him a break. He’s English.

      1. Didn’t the English found Jamaica?

        1. In which case, what the fuck are these people complaining about?

        2. Doesn’t mean they can cook.

        3. No. Spanish The British just won it away from them later.

          1. In a poker game, IIRC

            1. Lando’s a really shitty poker player. Its a good thing he cashed out with that Bespin win.

  2. Meh. I see that shit all the time. “Jambalaya” that’s just some kind of rice with some tomato paste in it or “gumbo” that’s just a sausage and vegetable soup or a “po boy” that’s really just a hoagie on some weak ass bun.

    1. You should see what they were calling an “enchilada” when I had Mexican food in Amsterdam.

      1. Pro tip: don’t order a margarita in France.

        1. Go for the Belle du Jour.

        2. Oh, that deserves some follow-up explanation.

          Also, never go a Mexican restaurant in Milwaukee. Taco Bell is more authentic.

          1. Having tried to order margaritas in multiple European countries I can tell you they don’t know what one is, don’t have the any of the ingredients on hand, won’t admit it, and will just slap some shitty alcohol into a glass mixed with some shitty mixers and hope for the best.

      2. I had a “burrito” in Canada that was just ground beef and ketchup wrapper in tortilla.

      3. Worst Mexican food I ever had was in New Jersey. Their salsa was literally ketchup with minced onions.

      4. They must hate Taco Bell

  3. If it’s not jerk, don’t call it jerk, jerk.

    So how is this appropriating Jamaican culture if it’s not really Jerk?

    1. So how is this appropriating Jamaican culture if it’s not really Jerk?

      And how is it appropriating Jamaican culture when half the spices in jerk were introduced to Jamaica by Europeans?

      1. And come to think of it, practically all the black people too.

        1. And come to think of it, practically all the black people too.


      2. I hate to concede this, but I just read up on jerk cooking and all the key ingredients really are native to Jamaica.

        Lack of pure cultural origin is usually the case with most so-called cultural appropriation, and can be used to point out such claims as ridiculous, but in this case it really is native Jamaican culture.

        Not that I care. I’m pro-cultural appropriation.

      3. Let’s not forget that the most common types of animal meats that are jerked are imports also.

    2. Next thing you know you’ll be telling people not to call egg-less Mayo mayo.

  4. And all throughout the Caribbean, millions of marginalized colonized PoCs starved.


  5. If anybody does any cultural appropriation it’s those blue-eyed white devils and their ching-chong Confucius sayings.

  6. “Your culture is my underwear”

  7. Is buying yogurt cultural appropriation?

    1. Are you a woman with gastrointestinal issues?

      1. Is that the new intersectional marginalized group?

  8. “Among Britain’s most popular foods are Chinese stir-fry and Indian chicken tikka masala. Does anyone think those dishes haven’t evolved over the years to accommodate the British public’s culinary tastes?”

    Given that chicken tikka masala was plausibly invented in Glasgow, I’d expect it to have been made for the British public’s tastes in the first place.

    (It has its roots in Punjabi or Bangladeshi food, per all sources, but even the other story of its creation dates it back no earlier than 1920 or so, and thus thoroughly modern.)

    Now, if someone made a dish of rice with turmeric powder on it and crushed red pepper flake and called it “tikka masala”, we’d be closer to Ramsay’s “literally everything in this dish isn’t right” territory.

    (Still not “cultural appropriation”, but it’s a complete mislabeling; whatever he made, it’s not jerk.)

  9. They should all challenge him to a competition to see who does Jerk best: a jerk off. No way a real Jamaican could lose a jerk off; I bet that labor politician is the biggest jerker offer on the island!

  10. They’re British, they should stick to traditional British foods like spotted dick and haggis.

    1. Toad in the hole…

    2. Chutney is British.

  11. >>>Jerk is “not just a word you put before stuff to sell products,”

    it also describes cultural appropriation policia.

  12. If you think US politicians are crazy, wait and see what the UK Labour Party has to offer!

    1. Think George III, but with less commitment to freedom.

  13. Jamie Oliver can go to hell. This is the sanctimonious bastard that had started the “Pink Slime” scare and had a TV show where he drove around rural America telling people how to eat.

    1. I watched his show for about five minutes and came to the conclusion that he’s an ignorant asshole.

  14. Let the market decide. If it’s inauthentic and people don’t like it they won’t buy it. And Jamie What’sit will be ridiculed. But once again THERE IS NO SUCH THING AS CULTURAL APPROPRIATION.

    1. There is, but the concept of cultural appropriation was invented by nutty academics and therefore nobody else has the right to make a fuss about cultural appropriation. Because that would be cultural appropriation appropriation.

      Problem solved.

  15. Tikka Masala was INVENTED in the UK, by Indian, Pakistani or Bangladeshi immigrants (depending on whose murky origin story you believe), for the express purpose of appealing to the locals’ pallets. The recipe’s been around about 50 years. But it represents the pinnacle of culinary “cultural appropriation,” served in every Indian restaurant in America. Yum!

  16. Dawn Butler, a Labour Party member of Parliament, accused Oliver on Twitter of appropriating Jamaican culture. Jerk is “not just a word you put before stuff to sell products,” wrote Butler, whose parents are Jamaican:

    Sure it is. As in “Jerk MP Dawn Butler is a fascist lickspittle asshole”

    I heard Oliver was originally going to call it “Pathetic douchebag MP rice” but the marketing guys didn’t think that would sell as well.

  17. In europe, they’re sophisticated enough to realize the least racist way to cook is by not eating anything your great-,grandparents wouldn’t have. That’s not quite literally orwellian, I don’t think, but you gotta respect the effort.

  18. If you are getting offended at the grocery store over some microwable junk, I really feel sorry for you but probably not in the way you intended

    1. I think the fact that people are offended by microwaveable junk is something to be celebrated. Surely this is evidence that all the real problems of the world have been solved, and now we’re having to search for trivial problems to be outraged over.

      And make no mistake: People Are Outraged!

  19. I’ll be honest, it annoys me when people try to pass off random-ass food preparations as but calling it cultural appropriation seems a bit much. It’s a crime against menu or perhaps frozen food labeling, not against the dignity of an ethnicity.

  20. How far is the SJW crowd willing to push “cultural appropriation”? Earlier this year, I was at the Crazy Horse memorial in South Dakota and went through the museum. There’s a large display on glass bead art and its importance in Indian culture (and yes, THEY refer to themselves as “Indian”).

    Guess where the glass beads came from? Europe. They were introduced to the natives through trade with the “white man”. I guess this section of the museum should be eliminated or at least re-labeled as a “dark period” in their history.

    Then there’s the Crazy Horse statue itself where Chief Crazy Horse is ridding a horse. Horses, and therefore horse riding, were also appropriate from Europe. How dare they create a memorial to cultural appropriation!

    [Snark aside: it’s not free or cheap like the national and state parks, but the memorial was pretty cool.]

  21. Isn’t this bitch appropriating the Brit parliamentary system?

  22. I’m always pissed off when some POC appropriates English as their language along with our educational system, technology, medicine, etc.

    They can go back to existing exactly as their society was prior to being discovered by Europeans.

  23. No one is required to make a dish as it was originally made in its country of origin. The culinary world is replete with ‘interpretations’ of dishes from all over the world. Get over it and stop being a jerk from Jamaica over Jamaican jerk!!!

  24. In other news Texans still pissed at that shit stew they call “chili” over in New York.

    1. yes, my grandma is this person. If you put some beans in it she will flip the fuck out too.

  25. Worst mexican I ever had was in southern germany, was pretty funny though, but also inedible (to me at least)

  26. I am always outraged when I see blacks wearing t-shirts and tennis shoes and other European style clothing. I don’t go outside wearing nothing but a rag over my genitals, a big disc in my ears and lips carrying a spear.

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