There's plenty of scope in current events for a constructive and far-reaching debate about cultural appropriation versus cultural appreciation, but naturally I'm going to take this opportunity to talk about how much of a dickhead Jamie Oliver is.
TL;DR: it's a lot.
It's fair enough to say that all cuisine is stolen from somewhere. We've been cooking for at least 1.8 million years and pretty much everything has been done before by someone somewhere. This is especially true in GB, where our native produce consists entirely of watercress and mammoth meat with absolutely everything else having been imported from somewhere. Apples come from China, dormice came over with the Romans, fish & chips are Jewish. There's no such thing as authentic British cuisine, and we like it that way. The cultural appropriation is the bit that makes it delicious.
There are considerations to bear in mind, though. Nobody seems to mind cultural appropriation when it's done with a modicum of respect for the source culture, and/or if it's done well, and that's what's lacking on this occasion.
This latest flap involving the fat-tongued mockney twat is amusing precisely because it's so clear-cut. Jamie's
punchy jerk rice is not jerk, and it's barely even
rice. Jerk is a meat marinade based on citrus juice, allspice, and scotch bonnets, none of which appear in this travesty. What Jamie has done, as is his wont, is whack a bit of this in and a slosh of that, and probably a luvverly good glug of olive oil because it's Jamie and he can't help himself, all without the remotest concern for the people he's ripping off. And then he calls it
jerk not out of any respect for the culture that served as his inspiration, but because putting words on things sells units.
Crucially, apparently the result is disgusting, because amongst all of his myriad other faults, Jamie is a terrible cook.
As we all know, he's not only a terrible cook but also a terrible human being. This is clearly evidenced by every action he has ever taken in his worthless life, not least the smug, sanctimonious attitude, the arrogance, the hypocrisy, the poverty-shaming, the fat-shaming, and the constant moral crusades against anyone who's insufficiently upper-middle-class for his Winchester-addled tastes. But the specific example of his odious nature which is most pertinent right now is his cluelessness. Faced with the prospect that he might have made a teensy social misstep, backed with the weight of plenty of evidence and the outrage of the British Afro-Caribbean community, Jamie's only response is to double down, and call his detractors
mad. So now we can add mental-health-shaming to the list.
Far be it from me to encourage Britons of Jamaican origin to take up the torches and pitchforks and show Jamie what a real barbecue looks like, from the inside. But if you all would choose to do so, I'd consider it an added bonus.
If like me, this whole controversy has just left you craving proper jerk, the Irish Times has a recipe.