Sunday, March 26, 2023

“Karen, Queen of Congee” accused of cultural appropriation of Chinese Porridge

Social News"Karen, Queen of Congee" accused of cultural appropriation of Chinese Porridge

Breakfast Cure, a breakfast brand in the United States (US) is currently facing accusations of cultural appropriation of Chinese porridge after its founder, Karen Taylor claimed to have “improved” and “modernised” congee and called herself “the Queen of Congee”.

For centuries, the dish has been a staple in many Asian cultures and has as many names as it does variations across countries. Nonetheless, congee is most commonly referred to the Chinese version as porridge and it is often eaten for breakfast.

According to TODAY, many were disappointed to learn that Karen had made several remarks across her company’s website that claims that congee was an exotic, lesser food until she adapted it for the Western place.

In a blog post titled ‘How I discovered the miracle of congee and improved it’, she wrote “I’ve spent a lot of time modernising (congee) for the Western pallet (sic) – making a congee that you can eat and find delicious and doesn’t seem foreign, but delivers all of the medicinal healing properties of this ancient recipe.”

Source: Breakfast Cure

She then said that she was introduced to congee over 25 years ago while in “Chinese medical school” in New Mexico and she has continued to eat it as it helps in her digestion.

“When I was in acupuncture school, I had an amazing young brilliant American teacher who taught me about congee… She said, you know, just try it, and I loved it. It was surprising to me how good it felt in my stomach.” she said in a video interview on the website.

In the interview, she also said that congee is “sort of weird thing” that Americans needed to be confident and comfortable making in their own homes.

Meanwhile, she also claimed that congee has medical properties and healing effects. She even include a link to an article she published in the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, where the acupuncturist refers to herself as a “physician of Asian medicine”.

Through her company, Breakfast cure, she sells various flavours of packed “gourmet, foodie” versions of congee and she hopes that it will become a common breakfast of Americans, even though it has been part of Asian cuisine since the start of time, she is on a “new frontier”.

The congee she sells, are made of various types of rice, berries, fruits, and nuts and it costs USD14.95 (RM63) per packet, or USD263 (RM1,110) per month for a 20-pack subscription.

Source: Instagram

Shortly after this went circulated on the Internet, Taylor finds herself in hot water of its own and had to apologise after facing social media backlash and accusations of whitewashing congee, exoticizing Asian food and ignoring the dish’s Asian roots.

She even edited sections of her blog, however, the numerous screenshots of the original post have made its way to social media and news portals.

Netizens on Twitter, mostly Asians have criticized Karen for calling herself a congee pioneer. A netizen said “She’s stealing our culture but does not honor it.”

Another said “So, a group of colonisers decided to culturally appropriate congee. Good lord.”

“Oh God, it’s like the mahjong shit all over again.” said another netizen.

What do you think about this? Share your thoughts!

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