What a truly awful week.
In the wake of the (more than) disappointing election results, it’s been hard to really focus on much of anything at all.
Yes, life goes on and yes we keep moving forward, but that does not mean we ignore what’s happening in our country and just passively let a powerful white supremacist undo decades of social justice efforts.
I figured I’d use this space to talk about some serious issues that are actually relevant to this blog- and the online food community- but that are also indicative of larger-scale national issues of racism, post-colonial systems of oppression, climate-change denial, and so many more problems that have come to the forefront of my thoughts recently.
Also, look at this gorgeous vegan pesto tofu ricotta ravioli if this dialogue is depressing you.
Whether you’re vegan or not, you come to this vegetarian food blog because something about plant-based eating is appealing to you. And whether or not you choose to follow a vegan diet, you can probably appreciate that plant-based eating decreases one’s carbon footprint, and that food sustainability is important in order to decrease the effects of climate change.
And yet, our President-elect plans to cut funding for or completely remove the Environmental Protection Agency, because he doesn’t believe in climate change. The EPA is “the agency responsible for protecting our food supply from the most damaging and toxic pesticides. It doesn’t always do an effective job, but it’s hard to imagine how eliminating the EPA would make our food safer. It would in all likelihood lead to a vast increase in the use of the most dangerous pesticides in the fields growing our food, and to increasing rates of cancer, birth defects, and a host of other diseases.” (Source).
You and I are here because we share an interest in food. Even if you aren’t interested in plant-based eating, even if you don’t believe in climate change, getting rid of the EPA will only cause our food, and consequently, us, harm.
Okay, that was a lot, take a break and look at this pasta.
Alright, we’re back. So our probably/unfortunately new President is totally racist and xenophobic*, which makes checking ourselves more critical than ever to ensure that we are not perpetuating racism by fetishizing marginalized cultures in the forms of cultural appropriation.
How does that relate to food bloggers? Well…
* “And isn’t it funny. I’ve got black accountants at Trump Castle and Trump Plaza. Black guys counting my money! I hate it.” // “When Mexico sends its people, […] They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists.” // “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States”
Stop with the Buddha Bowls.
No seriously, just stop. I’m sick and tired of pretending that people putting roasted vegetables in a bowl and then comparing that to an Eastern deity is okay.
It’s not okay. Literally, why would you think this is okay?? It’s a bowl of food that you are monetizing and naming after a religious figure that you know nothing about, simply to capitalize on the traffic you will get for making something “trendy”.
Yes, some representations of Buddha depict him with a round belly. Yes, a Buddha Bowl has a full and rounded appearance. You know what else has a full and rounded appearance?
Globes. Planetariums. The Sistine Chapel. A pregnant woman about to pop.
Lots of things that aren’t a religious icon that you are comparing to food in order to be “on trend”.
“[F]ood is appropriated when people from the dominant culture – in the case of the US, white folks – start to fetishize or commercialize it, and when they hoard access to that particular food.
When a dominant culture reduces another community to its cuisine, subsumes histories and stories into menu items – when people think culture can seemingly be understood with a bite of food, that’s where it gets problematic.” (Source).
This isn’t to say we as food bloggers can’t experiment with or enjoy other cuisines. But when we take something fundamental to a culture that has been historically oppressed, twist it to fit our norms without understanding its meaning and significance, and then use it superficially and commercially, we are doing something wrong and contributing to a larger systematic issue.
I could (and should and will) talk about this at more length. There are other very current examples of foodie appropriation and plagiarizing, the most salient to me being the “turmeric latte” trend. (Folks, it’s called haldi dhoodh, it’s existed forever, stop pretending you came up with it). You can read more about that here.
Lastly, I want to remind everyone that we live in a capitalist society, and food is no exception to this characteristic of our economy. Remember that where you put your money counts. Here’s some information on which corporations may have helped sway the election.
Was this the most articulate I could be? Probably not. Have I exhausted my feelings on the topic? Absolutely not. Will I be more conscientious than ever in noting and calling out these issues. Yes, yes, yes.
Guys, let’s be better.
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- ½ cup water
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 8 oz tofu
- 1 cup spinach
- ½ cup basil
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil, divided
- 1 clove garlic
- salt to taste
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- pepper and parsley to taste
- Start by preparing pasta: Place flour an in a bowl, make a well in the middle, and add olive oil and water.
- Mix with hands until just combined, then knead dough on a table/countertop for a full five minutes, until the dough comes together.
- Wrap dough in a log in a damp kitchen towel and let rest for at least 25-30 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, start your filling. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil in a pan over medium heat.
- Crumble tofy into pan and toss to coat with oil. Cook for 3-5 minutes, until slightly fragrant. Remove from heat to cool.
- For pesto, pulse together basil, spinach, garlic, and remaining olive oil in a food processor. Add tofu and combine until homogenous. Add salt to taste.
- Return to your pasta dough: on a well floured surface, roll out your dough to about ¼ to ⅛ inch thick. Transfer to parchment paper and make light indents with your ravioli stamp that cover half of the dough.
- Using a small cookie dough scoop, fill each indent with the pesto tofu filling.
- Gently fold over the remaining dough and use your fingers to seal the two pieces of dough around each mound of filling.
- Using your ravioli stamp, stamp through the dough to produce the ravioli. Repeat until you have used up all your dough and filling.
- In a pot of boiling salted water, cook ravioli 6 at a time (in 4 batches), removing with a slotted spoon once the ravioli is cooked (when it floats to the stop) and transferring to a sieve.
- Serve topped with olive oil, pepper, and parsley.