Earlier this week, Chrissy Teigen – model, foodie and author of the cookbook Cravings (also John Legend’s wife, Luna’s mama and clapback queen), took to Twitter to voice her frustration about not being able to find scotch bonnet peppers in LA. The antennae of several members of Jamaican Twitter went up, and excitement peaked when she shared that she was making oxtail stew, and it involved lots of seasoning and Jamaican curry powder (I don’t know of us currying oxtail, so I’m guessing it’s either Thai or some sort of fusion dish.) Anyway, the long and short of it is that she was practically adopted by Jamaican Twitter, and she liked the idea.
That was nice.
Now, fast forward to yesterday, when the picture below began to make the rounds, catching the eye and raising the ire of Jamaicans on all social media platforms:
What in the actual culinary hell is this nastiness?! This is the portal to food poisoning and gastrointestinal pyrotechnics. What kind of twisted psychopath would do this to food?! Who took a chainsaw to this individual’s shame tree and caused them to photograph this blight and put it on social media for other people to see?!
A friend of mine shared it on Facebook and I almost threw up the dinner I had eaten four hours earlier. Gutside! I don’t know what that’s supposed to even be. It looks like several kinds of excrement, topped with ejected bile. It makes just about every kitchen calamity you can find by searching the hashtag #cookingforbae seem like reasonable attempts. And then to have the unmitigated GALL to suggest that you’re not Jamaican if you’ve never eaten this?! Is that so? Then I guess the 2.7 million or so of us living here, and the millions more in the diaspora need to find out where we come from, because none of us have ever even seen this before. And FYI, offending “cook,” Jamaicans do not eat doodoo.
I’m going to need these misinformed or plain uninformed people in foreign to leave my nice, nice Jamaican cuisine alone, and stop trying to sully our good name in these internet streets. In 2013, we had to deal with British celebrity chef, Marco Pierre White, and his misguided attempt at ‘Jamaican style chicken, rice and peas‘ that none of us in our right minds would make or consume. Did he not have any Jamaican friends to tell him a) we season our meat, b) we don’t bwile chicken, and c) those are not the right type of peas? Bless his bland British heart.
Then two years ago, Buzzfeed decided to wade into the water with their listicle 27 Essential Jamaican Recipes You Need In Your Life. Amongst the offerings were saltfish and ackee fritters 😒, run down made with what looks like tin boom (tin mackerel, for the non-Jamaicans) 🤢, curry goat that didn’t look like the curry we know or even goat meat 😕, sweet potato bun 🙄, and something called ‘Jamaican patty pops’ 🤣. Most of these dishes were Jamaican-inspired at best, and after being mercilessly trolled on Twitter with the hashtag #BuzzFeedBeLike, they finally amended the headline. And they redeemed themselves a few months later when they got a couple of their staff writers with actual Jamaican heritage to write these really sweet articles about making traditional Sunday dinner by learning from the matriarchs in their families. And the food in the pics was actually recognisable.
Look, we get it. Jamaicans are awesome. We appreciate that y’all like our food (and music and dance). Culture is meant to be shared, after all. But if you realise that your attempt at recreating our dishes doesn’t look (or taste) even remotely like the original, kindly refrain from using our counrty’s name in the title, and sharing the fetid mess on social media. We consider these things insulting, not only to us but to our mothers, grandmothers and great grandmothers, who make the best food known to mankind. And you know (or don’t wanna know) what happens when you come for a Jamaican person’s mama. It feels like you’re spitting on the traditions we hold dear, and we don’t appreciate it. At all. And shame on you if you’re of Jamaican descent and make these terrible “dishes” and try to act like you know better than us out here. You do not.
And there’s nothing wrong with fusion – after all, our cuisine is made up of a likkle bit a dis and a likkle bit a dat. So if that’s what you’re attempting, say so in the headline and save our blood pressure. And if you simply cannot cook, go KFC nuh? Or some other fast food establishment? Stop embarrassing yourself and your own mama on the internet.