Lena Dunham Supports Conversation About Oberlin Dining Hall "Cultural Appropriation"
The 'Girls' star said she thought "right on" when she learned of discussions at her alma mater about "whether the dining hall sushi and banh mi disrespect certain cuisines."
Lena Dunham has weighed in on the debate about food and cultural appropriation at her alma mater, Oberlin College.
"There are now big conversations at Oberlin, where I went to college, about cultural appropriation and whether the dining hall sushi and banh mi disrespect certain cuisines.," Dunham said in an interview with Food & Wine. " The press reported it as, 'How crazy are Oberlin kids?' But to me, it was actually, 'Right on.'"
Some Oberlin students were upset that the dining hall was serving Asian-inspired dishes that were inauthentic.
For example, a Japanese student told the college's newspaper, The Oberlin Review, that the rice at the sushi bar was undercooked and the fish wasn't fresh.
"When you’re cooking a country’s dish for other people, including ones who have never tried the original dish before, you’re also representing the meaning of the dish as well as its culture," said the student, Tomoyo Joshi. "So if people not from that heritage take food, modify it and serve it as 'authentic,' it is appropriative."
Other complaints included the dining hall version of General Tso's chicken being steamed and not fried and made with a sauce that was not the traditional Chinese meal's ginger-garlic soy sauce. The Vietnamese banh mi sandwich was made with ciabatta bread, pulled pork and coleslaw instead of grilled pork, pate, pickled vegetables and fresh herbs.
Since the controversy, the dining hall has re-named the dishes to reflect they are inspired by and are not the same as the original international dishes. The sushi bar has also reportedly been replaced by a deli bar.