A Food Network Star Created Her Version Of Mexican ‘Posole’ And Some People Are Not Having Any Of It
Ina “the Barefoot Contessa” Garten is getting dragged on social media for her white-washed pozole recipe. Garten is a celebrity chef due to her series the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. She is known for having no formal cooking training but rather being self-taught. Perhaps, she should have self-taught herself how to respect other cultures and stay in her lane.
Whether you know it as “posole” or “pozole,” the (at least) 500-year-old dish is a traditional Mexican soup or stew. The first documented mention of the dish was in the 16th century (though it clearly predates this) by Bernadino de Sahagun, a missionary and ethnographer from Spain. Because maize (the only indigenous word they teach you in school) was considered sacred by the Aztecs, pozole was a special occasion dish.
So let’s watch a white woman erase hundreds of years of Mexican history for television ratings.
Ina Garten gets dragged
Garten shared a video of her pork posole recipe on Facebook for Latinx Heritage Month, and it is getting roasted. The barefoot contessa did not do her research when making posole and it shows. Javier Cabrel of L.A. Taco says Garten’s recipe is more like sopa Azteca.
“To add “surprising” tortilla chips, bell peppers, black beans, cheddar cheese, sour cream, and green onions pushes this beyond any arguable posole variation and dangerously close to a Sopa Azteca (Tortilla Soup) with some serious chilli or frijoles de la olla vibes thrown in there thanks to the black beans for complete food stereotyping kicks,” Cabrel wrote.
Many felt like Garten just added a bunch of stereotypical Mexican ingredients into a broth and called it a day. The real dish is traditionally made with hominy, a mild guajillo, and ancho chile broth, with chicken or pork, and garnished with shredded cabbage or lettuce, diced onion, sliced radish, Mexican oregano, and maybe a little lime.
The recipe is getting slaughtered by Latinxs in the reviews.
Garten’s recipe on the Food Network is being flooded with 1-star reviews by Mexicans and other Latinxs.
“I’m sorry but THAT is NOT pozole! This is just plain offensive. Either learn the original recipe right or leave it to the Mexicans who know what they’re doing. How dare you call this pozole? Make up your own name for this abomination. I’d give it zero stars if I could,” one reviewer wrote.
“I love you Ina. I have 5 of your books and love all your recipes that I cooked until now. But I am so disappointed this time; because this is not pozole at all. I am hoping that you wrote posole, because you make your own version of this amazing delicious Mexican dish. Which it’s not close at all to the traditional recipe. Your recipe, it’s not Mexican at all…” another fan of the show said.
“As much as I love Ina’s recipes, I am Mexican and this is not pozole. If she is going to make a traditional dish of any country at least she should research a little bit,” the 1-star review read.
It is not unusual for white people to appropriate the foods of other cultures, make them as bland as possible for white palates, then profit off of the traditions of said culture. This is mere cultural appropriation in cooking. However, Mexican food, in particular, is perpetually disrespected and imitated by Enterprising White Mediocres.
As Emily Deruy, notes in the Atlantic, as Mexican cuisine now finally enters the fine-dining sector, Americans must grapple with the fact that there is more to Mexican food than just tacos and burritos.
“But the dishes rolling out of the kitchens at Cala, Cosme, and emerging restaurants in between are increasingly taking a beloved cuisine into the fine-dining realm. Not only are they challenging the idea that Mexican food means cheap and fast, but they’re trusting that Americans will pay top dollar for quality ingredients prepared in novel and creative ways,” Deruy wrote.
This isn’t the first time chefs have disrespected Latinx cuisine.
This disrespectful attitude toward Mexican cuisine permeates the food industry. Ree of The Pioneer Woman on the Food Network, because we all want to eat like we are on the Oregon trail catching dysentery and being complicit in the Trail of Tears, once put a pallid twist on Mexican macaroni salad.
International celebrity chefs aren’t immune to the trend either.
Gordon Ramsay called his spicy Mexican eggs a “classic” Mexican dish despite his suggestion that swapping black beans for cannellini beans or chickpeas makes no difference.
It is one thing to be inspired by Mexican cuisine, it is another thing to co-opt it for your own profit, and it is a whole other thing to repackage misguided recipes as authentically Mexican to a wide audience — that is erasure. And to do so for Latinx Heritage Month is just a slap in the face to Mexicans everywhere.
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