ASIAN VOICES

BBC Gets Slammed For Video About Why Kimchi's Taste Is 'So Odd'

Asians on social media accused the outlet of resorting to the all-too-common practice of ridiculing traditionally Asian foods.

Asians aren’t happy with how BBC News has characterized Korean cuisine.

The outlet drew heavy criticism for a video about kimchi published last week originally titled “What makes kimchi taste so odd?” It also appeared in some places with the headline, “The secrets behind kimchi’s strange taste.” As of Thursday afternoon, the post’s headline read “What gives kimchi its unusual flavour?” though links to the video on some parts of the site still include the “so odd” phrasing.

A BBC video titled "What makes kimchi taste so odd?" has sparked backlash.
A BBC video titled "What makes kimchi taste so odd?" has sparked backlash.

Screenshots circulated across Twitter this week, and many social media users, including James Beard Award-winning writer Cathy Erway, pointed out that the outlet had insensitively described the traditional dish.

Critics accused the BBC of resorting to the all-too-common practice of ridiculing traditionally Asian foods. People slammed the outlet for its othering word choice and noted that foods associated with white people aren’t often described with the same kind of language. 

And some suggested a few revisions.

BBC did not immediately respond to a request for comment from HuffPost. But it’s far from the sole news organization that’s been seen othering Asian foods. Bon Appetit Magazine notoriously touted the traditional Vietnamese dish pho as “trendy” and positioned white chef Tyler Akin as the authority on the dish. 

“So when you present ethnic food this way by a white man, you offend the Vietnamese community and deprive them of their own right to be authentic and maintain their identity,” Dr. Bich-Ngoc Turner, lecturer of Vietnamese language and literature at the University of Washington, previously told HuffPost in an interview about the Bon Appetit debacle.

In a 2017 piece for Vice, Clarissa Wei pinpointed the problems that occur in when our cultural cuisines, often symbols of our ties to our heritages, are viewed by white-dominated audiences. When white people appointed as “experts” approve of Asian dishes, white attitudes warm up. But “our food is still largely looked on upon from the sidelines as a mysterious cuisine of antiquity,” she said.

“Only certain dishes like noodles, dumplings, kebabs, and rice bowls have been normalized,” Wei wrote. “The majority is still largely stigmatized because, bluntly put, white people have not decided they like it yet.”

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