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.
#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.
— (((Dawn Butler MP))) (@DawnButlerBrent) August 18, 2018
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.
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
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
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 pic.twitter.com/T5lzNiivch
— Sam 'MamaSam' Davis (@SamDavis66) August 14, 2018
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
— Kay-D MusiQ (@KayDMusiQ) August 20, 2018
Whats this “jerk rice” you’ve been banging on about @jamieoliver – how do you even jerk rice ??♂️ …. we don’t want or need any of your help thanks. Enjoy the rest of your Saturday ??
— knighty (@LeonKnight_) August 18, 2018
Wait, there's people trying to Jerk rice??? pic.twitter.com/ZjwatuHLwu
— Sｕm?乇? Jay ?? (@DatDudeJerome) August 19, 2018
You're missing the point. You can ONLY jerk MEAT & FISH, NOT rice. @DawnButlerBrent is referring to @jamieoliver's packet of rice. Of course people from the dominant culture are always quick to dismiss issues of cultural appropriation raised by the minority culture. #Typical
— Harmarnii Rae (@HarmarniiRae) August 20, 2018
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?
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's the beef with Jamie Oliver making and selling Jamaican food? The guys got an Italian restaurant aint heard a peep from the mafia. Dont like it, dont buy it? ??♂️
— Steven Blewitt (@blewitt_17) August 20, 2018
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)…
— Sofia Petkar (@SophiePetkar) August 20, 2018
Omg @jamieoliver what a blooming fuss about nothing! You dared to use the word jerk with rice which has apparently offended the Caribbean people…. are the people where tea is grown offended by the naming of Yorkshire tea even though it’s not grown in Yorkshire? Grow up people!!
— Jay Lord (@J1Lord) August 20, 2018
@GMB food fusion.
Rusty and Levi have spent their careers promoting Caribbean food. I agree if it is factually wrong it SHOULD read jerk flavoured rice. Levi's point. I get the passion about food but culturally inappropriate and offensive really Rusty!
— Ellie O'Reilly (@EllieOReilly69) August 20, 2018
What do you think about this new rice product? Should it be renamed?
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Jules studied English Literature with Creative Writing at Lancaster University before earning her masters in International Relations at Leiden University in The Netherlands (Hoi!). She then trained as a journalist through News Associates in Manchester. Jules has previously worked as a mental health blogger, copywriter and freelancer for various publications.