I was struck by a contradiction brought up by Ruiz in her article Citizen Restaurant. In the article, two contrasting perspectives on multiethnic dining are offered; Donna R. Gabaccia states that “our multi-ethnic eating daily proclaims our satisfied sense of affiliation with one another… [while Christine Yano believes] eating another social group’s food does not mean that one possesses particular knowledge or appreciation of their culture, fraternizes with them, or supports their political or economic positions” (Ruiz p. 5-6).
I realized that, oddly enough, the satirical website Stuff White People Like (stuffwhitepeoplelike.com)explains to its audience how both of these views, though seemingly paradoxical, can be true. The website, essentially a numbered list of young, liberal white stereotypes, states that “white people love ethnic diversity, but only as it relates to restaurants.” People view eating ethnic food such as sushi (#42) or hummus (#112) as an adventure, immersing themselves in new customs akin to “cultural pioneers,” for the thrill of exploring the foreign and the unknown (#71: Being the only white person around). However, treating these trips to Chinatown on Canal Street like expeditions into the heart of the Dark Continent robs people of any opportunity to form cultural connections any deeper than colonial explorers created with the indigenous societies they met. The discovery of diversity through food is nothing more than a cultural safari, distilling the ethnic food from their parent societies that offer much more than a loaf of bread. Like Ruiz, Stuff White People Like teaches us through stereotypes and dry humor is that appreciation for other cultures must go deeper than the bottom of the soup bowl.