In honor of Black History Month, the Black Student Union provided traditional soul food, Afro-Latino, Creole and Caribbean recipes to Bon Appétit, upon their request, to serve in Davenport Dining Hall during February.
But Bon Appétit, rather than follow those recipes, made a feeble attempt at what amounted to a fast food gesture toward African American cuisine.
Of the 40 pages of recipes they received, they ignored the details and method of preparation and cooking and chose to make the dishes their own way.
This is not the first time that Bon Appétit has attempted to cook cultural food and been less than successful.
Latkes and matzo balls were served in December in celebration of Hanukkah. Latkes are fried potato pancakes traditionally eaten on Hanukkah, but Bon Appétit’s version included carrots in the recipe, which traditionally are not found in latkes. As for the matzo balls, they were almost unrecognizable.
Matzo balls are a soup dumpling made from a mix of matzo meal, eggs, water, and either uses oil, margarine, or chicken fat to hold the dumplings together. Davenport’s version, in lieu of the matzo meal, crushed up matzah crackers and added carrots to the dumpling when in traditional recipes, the carrots are present in the broth only.
This time around, Bon Appétit asked for recipes, so it seemed they wanted to have input from BSU to prepare and serve authentic soul food.
But again the food was not an accurate representation of the recipes sent in. The fried catfish they served was actually cod.
This misrepresentation of the food seemed like a purposeful disregard of the efforts of BSU’s executive board and their traditional recipes.
There were also errors with the collard greens, which were watered down and served in the soup section.
For fried chicken and waffles, they gave us chicken strips and frozen Eggo-esque waffles. Come on.
It would not have been as big of an issue had Bon Appétit not requested the help of the students.
It’s not that we don’t appreciate the gesture, but obviously making culturally accurate food in earnest will take some follow-through on the part of our food service provider.