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‘The Caucacity:’ Ina Garten’s ‘Posole’ with Yellow Peppers and Sour Cream Is a Monstrosity Against Mexico’s 500-Year-Old Dish

3:19 PM PDT on September 20, 2019

    Welcome to Snapper Fridays, a new column at L.A. Taco suggested by L.A. Taco member Julio Trejo. In this emerging column, we make an exception to our generally positive posts and call things out for the greater good. For our first installment, we set a famous Food Network cooking show host straight on the institution that is pozole.   

    Beloved Food Network host Ina Garten is the latest casualty in the precarious world of food personalities suddenly crashing and burning when cooking Mexican food. 

    A cooking video that was posted on the Food Network’s page on Facebook last Friday showing Garten adding yellow bell peppers, black beans, tortilla chips, and green salsa to pozole has been causing anger and frustration for many Latinx followers. The date of the video post coincides with the kickoff of the biggest Hispanic Heritage Month in recent memory. Some, like Instagram user @hefty_7, have taken to using the slogan adopted by many other frustrated Latinx who are tired of their culture being appropriated—and capitalized on.

    “The caucasity!”

    Other popular comments on the video that now has over 1.3 million views for all the wrong reasons range from funny ones like, “This posole is the equivalent to a taco from Taco Bell” by Bea Tichi DelaCruz to devastating ones, like Vicky Martinez’s: “Ina Garten I can say I'm your #1 fan but with this recipe you broke my heart. I'm Mexican and sorry this is everything less posole.” Even our allies weren’t letting Garten slide for this one, “I'm not mexican, but this is NOT pozole!” said Eileen Hidalgo. Alexandra Neill commented about her unabashed disappointment in Garten, “This is not pozole and it is sad to see such a great cook not informing herself first before preparing a dish. There are variations in making dishes. But this is not a variation. It is a completely different dish.”

    Big food media, listen up: Adding black beans and lime juice to things do not automatically make it “Mexican.”

    While there is some flexibility in the American Southwest “posole” interpretation of Mexico’s dish that was first documented by Fray Bernardino in the 1500s during the Spanish conquest of Mexico according to Larousse Diccionario Enciclopédico de la Gastronomia Mexicana. (Yes, it used to be made from human meat as a sacrifice meal to Aztec ruler Moctezuma.) 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.

    Garten follows a long lineage of international celebrity and high-profile chefs—and their high-caliber teams behind them all—who strangely lose their keen senses of cooking, research, and respect when Mexican gastronomy is involved. 

    Never forget Jamie Oliver’s “kiwi salsa” verde made with seared kiwifruits for his fish tacos. 

    Or, The Pioneer Woman’s “festive” Mexican Macaroni Salad with, you guessed it, canned black beans, too (and kalamata olives for the full effect).

    And we are still rebuilding after Gordon Ramsay’s shakshuka-fied “Spicy Mexican Eggs,” complete with the “Mexican Hat Dance” bumping in the background. No, chef, mindlessly switching out black beans with cannellini beans or chickpeas is not “perfectly fine.” I bet you wouldn’t carelessly switch out certain ingredients in French or English food in the same way, would you?

    All of these are examples of lazy-ass attempts at cooking one of the world’s few cuisines that have been deemed an “Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The list of culinary greats getting careless with Mexican food goes on and on. The more you look, the more bastardized you will find.  

    All of these are examples of lazy-ass attempts at cooking one of the world’s few cuisines that have been deemed an “Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO. The list of culinary greats getting careless with Mexican food goes on and on. The more you look, the more bastardized you will find.  

    Big food media, listen up: Adding black beans and lime juice to things do not automatically make it “Mexican.” It’s 2019 and Mexican food literacy has come a hell of a long way, especially in a city like Los Angeles that boasts the highest population of Mexicans outside of Mexico City. We’ve all probably had lots of pozole and our eyes are on you. The days of canned tamales and “south of the border” used as descriptors to identify anything vaguely Mexican are in the past. 

    RELATED: Taco Trips ~ The Best Green Pozole in Mexico City is Hidden Inside an Apartment

    Sure, everyone makes mistakes. But a lot of them pertaining to recreating proper or accurate dishes from Latin America can be easily avoided by having at least a single token Latinx on your team. As a colleague here at the Taco has said before me, take a chance on me, us, and see what happens.

    Ina, if you’re ever in Los Angeles, hit up L.A. Taco and we would love to find the best pozole to take you to. While we’re at it, we can show you proper guacamole, too.

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