Jamie Oliver Accused Of ‘Cultural Appropriation’ Over New Jerk Rice

Jamie Oliver in cultural appropriation row.Getty

There were heated scenes on Good Morning Britain as Levi Roots and Rustie Lee debated over Jamie Oliver’s new ‘jerk rice’.

Over the weekend Labour MP Dawn Butler – whose parents originate from Jamaica – accused the celebrity chef of cultural appropriation in an angry tweet.

And her concerns have now been discussed by the two chefs on the breakfast telly show.

Questioning the restaurateur’s credentials to serve Jamaican style cuisine, the Brent Central representative tweeted:

#jamieoliver @jamieoliver #jerk I’m just wondering do you know what #Jamaican #jerk actually is? It’s not just a word you put before stuff to sell products.

@levirootsmusic should do a masterclass. Your jerk Rice is not ok. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop.

Roots – the mastermind behind Reggae Reggae jerk sauce – felt obliged to respond to the divisive situation.

Referring to the recipe, he said:

I do think it was a mistake by his team.

However, TV chef Rustie Lee felt the term ‘jerk’ was misleading, stating:

At the end of the day, I’ve tasted it and it tastes like Caribbean rice and beans with flavours in it.

The jerk part of it is barbecue and you can’t barbecue rice.

She continued:

Jerk chicken… goes onto meat, it doesn’t go onto rice.

When presenter Kate Garraway asked why this was important, Lee explained:

Jerk… originated from Jamaica and they would be offended by this, […]

It’s an insult because jerk is from the Caribbean and as much as I love Jamie, the point is it’s getting onto a bandwagon to say it’s Caribbean, it’s taken away from us.

Roots also explained how the term ‘jerk rice’ was factually inaccurate in this instance:

Jerk is either a method of cooking, or the marinade. If it doesn’t have these four things in it then you can’t refer it to jerk. You cannot call it jerk if it doesn’t have allspice.

The two main ingredients for Jerk marinade sauce – allspice and Scotch bonnet peppers – have not been incorporated in Oliver’s recipe.

Viewers at home continued the debate on Twitter, with many agreeing with Lee that ‘jerk rice’ was just not a thing.

One person tweeted:

I’m not in the mood for this @jamieoliver #PunchyJerkRice #Alkindawrong #Stopit now lost all respect for you.

WE IN THE BLACK COMMUNITY truly know how to cook OUR food and you take it and disrespect it in such a form. What a disgrace. I’m not surprised though #FakeFood

Another said:

Arguing something isn’t cultural appropriation to the people who culture the person has appropriated is completely wrong.

Don’t be afraid of the words, LISTEN to what’s being said, LEARN & take that knowledge with you. The ignorance is wild to me, JERK RICE IS NOT A THING.#GMB

However, others felt it was unfair to accuse Oliver of cultural appropriation, noting he had borrowed and adapted from cultures other than his own before.

One person tweeted:

What’s the beef with Jamie Oliver making and selling Jamaican food? The guys got an Italian restaurant ain’t heard a peep from the mafia. Don’t like it, don’t buy it?

Another said:

So much fuss over @jamieoliver’s jerk rice – you didn’t hear us Indians shouting ‘cultural appropriation’ when the dreaded Chai Teas and Golden Milks rocked up on the scene (don’t even get me started on Naan Bread)…

What do you think about this new rice product? Should it be renamed?

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