Cultural Appropriation Tastes Damn Good: How Immigrants, Commerce, and Fusion Keep Food Delicious

Writer Gustavo Arellano talks about food slurs, the late Jonathan Gold, and why Donald Trump's taco salad is a step in the right direction.


The late Jonathan Gold wrote about food in Southern California with an intimacy that brought readers closer to the people that made it. The Pulitzer Prize–winning critic visited high-end brick-and-mortar restaurants as well as low-end strip malls and food trucks in search of good food wherever he found it. Gold died of pancreatic cancer last month, but he still influences writers like Gustavo Arellano, Los Angeles Times columnist and author of Taco USA: How Mexican Food Conquered America.

Arellano sat down with Reason's Nick Gillespie to talk about Gold's legacy, political correctness in cuisine, and why Donald Trump's love of taco salad gives him hope in the midst of all of the president's anti-Mexican rhetoric. The interview took place at Burritos La Palma, named by Gold as home to one of the five best L.A. burritos.

Produced and edited by Paul Detrick. Shot by Detrick, Zach Weissmuller, and Lorenz Lo.

Photos of Jonathan Gold, Credit: Patrick Fallon/ZUMA Press/Newscom

"Hang for Days" by Silent Partner is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license. ( Source:

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  1. Its fruit sushi all the way down!

  2. Gold died of pancreatic cancer last month

    At the ripe old age of 57. Please, tell us more about how these foreign foods are so great for us.

    1. Sure.

      Pancreatic cancers can be divided into two groups. Exocrine and endocrine. Mucinous cystic neoplasms may be considered another subdivision.

      The pancreas is a glandular organ. Most of it produces enzymes to process food. I just ate a meatball sandwich and my parcreas is no doubt busy at work squirting out juice into my duodenum to break it down. That is exocrine. The majority of cancers are adenocarcinomas from those parts of the organ.

      It also produces hormones. Those are different. Those cells produce things like Insulin and Glucagon and can result in tumors different from adenocarcinomas.

      I will leave the topic of mucinous cystic tumors out for now.

      So the bottom line is nobody knows what causes these cancers. There are risk factors like smoking and diabetes but the correlation is not really a cause. It is one of those things that can hit with no known etiology.

      Foreign foods whatever that is, a useless term, like New England and New Mexico people eat the same, has nothing to do with it. There are no known dietary risk factors.

      There is the answer.


    2. Most of the food in the USA is foreign to its inhabitants. Do you think your body is the result of a super-rapid genetic adaption that happened within the few generations since your ancestors migrated to America?

      1. Quiero Taco Bell

      2. Evolution doesn’t work by “genetic adaptation”, it works by selection. Can everybody carrying or not carrying particular genes within a few generations? You bet.

        1. Adaption is the result, selection is the process. If foreign foods killed off people at a high rate, there might be adaption happening within some generations. Since they don’t, it doesn’t.

  3. I have to agree with this. Although I come from a place with its own great cuisine (South Louisiana), I like a good Mexican carnitas burrito (with all the extras), Middle-Eastern kabob, and shrimp Kung Pao.



  5. Like pizza isn’t 100% italian, most mexican food in the US is… tex-mex. But, man do I love tacos: I don’t care who invented them.

    1. Pizza is Italian but not pizza with pineapple. That’s cultural appropriations and is bad. Like if you listen to Frank Sinatra and are not Italian. This is according to the socialist justice warriors.

      1. Pizza was invented in America.

        1. ^^ Hahaha Now that is funny! ^^

          I think America has re-invented pizza for sure.

          1. How has it ‘reinvented’ the pizza? I keep hearing America makes the pizza but it’s meaningless to me. I sure as hell have had fantastic pizza in the USA but ‘appropriating’ as if they make it ‘better’? Not sure. I need more convincing. I’m listening.

            As far as I can tell, we still get a lot our tips straight from the motherland from the type of flour they use to the latest technology in ovens we import.

            It’s their thing after all. It’s only natural they keep ‘reinventing’ it.

      2. Pineapple on pizza is an abomination.

    2. Lol.

      Yes it is 100% Italian. There were variations of flatbread style foods but the pizza as we know it is Italian from Italy.

      Same with durum wheat pasta. It’s Italian. People confuse the Chinese noodle as being ‘pasta’.

  6. There is no such thing as cultural appropriation.

    1. not quite 100% accurate, we’ll take…your women (must be hot), your food (not too weird), some tech and/music, some clothing (again not too weird) and a couple of words /phrases. You can have the rest of your crap, and by the way stay the fuck home, no one wants you here.

      1. oh and keep your “sports” no one likes them and they’re no fun to play.

    2. Well, yes and no. I do agree that the concept is an invalid one, but it exists among the idiot left.

      Cultural appropriation is what makes America great. We took all of these different cultures in to make new ones.

  7. If it tastes good, eat it. Nothing more to say.

  8. “cultural appropriation” is a unicorn; people talk about it all the time, but it doesn’t exist.

    1. what about their farts, huh? explain those!

  9. So, what you’re saying is that you want a certain number of the immigration visas to be reserved for chefs? I’m sure Trump isn’t going to put up a fight about that.

  10. I wonder what those Cultural Appropriation SJWs would think if we started pointing out all the foods, tools, and activities shared (appropriated?) from and by other cultures.

    No more spoons or bathing for them. Also, the Japanese have “Omurice” which is…a very missapropriated omelete which is enjoyed in Japan. There’s so many more items….

  11. Support illegal immigration into the US! For the culinary experience! After all, you don’t have to pay for them!

  12. The New York World’s Fair in 1964 opened my eyes to other countrie’s food. Almost each nation seemed to have a food concession. I never thought of it as cultural, but merely new food, good food, and a great experience. Also, Great eel sandwiches from Eastern European’s from food trucks on Sunrise highway on LI,NY. I will appropriate in my house foods that taste good with ingredients that keep on improving and becoming more available. And the brats available now. . . . Pushing the old German stuff.

  13. Great post. I am a normal visitor to your website and appreciate your taking the time to maintain a good website. I will be a regular visitor for a long time.

  14. Illegal immigration is a great contributor to ethnic dining. So are wars of intervention. Vietnam may have been bloody, but now we have all these wonderful Vietnam restaurants. Illegal immigration also gives TB a big boost. And that’s sure to have a positive impact on our immune systems over time. Smile. Be happy.

  15. What do you think of such girls from an escort in Auckland? Would you like to spend the night with one of them?

  16. It looks like frankie. I have seen recipe of this on vigo video

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