Labour’s shadow women and equalities minister Dawn Butler has accused TV chef Jamie Oliver “cultural appropriation” for launching a microwavable “punchy jerk rice”.
Butler insinuated Oliver was using the word “jerk” to increase the sales while deviating from the original Caribbean.
She also mentioned Dragon's Den alumni Levi Roots, who created jerk BBQ Reggae Reggae sauce, suggesting he could teach Oliver a thing or two.
Jerk usually involves marinating meat in a jerk spice mixture. The spicy sauce originated in Jamaica, but has become increasingly popular in the UK.
The spice mix itself primarily uses allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers. As Butler points out, these are not in the recipe of Oliver's readymade rice.
Butler's comments have launched a fiery debate on Twitter. Many people have disagreed with her, suggesting that by her logic no one would ever try or make food from other cultures.
Though the fact is that Butler did not suggest that cooking food that belongs to other cultures, or even selling it, is "appropriation". The issue seems to be Oliver profiting from a recipe that isn't faithful to its roots. That's what Butler believes is appropriation. There are also complex dynamics relating to Jamaica's status as a former British colony which may not effect other nations in quite the same way. After all, appropriation is usually about a perceived "dominant culture" taking from another culture.
Others suggested the product could have been labelled better to avoid confusion.