After Jamie Oliver was accused of cultural appropriation by a Labour MP over his ‘Punchy Jerk Rice’ product, supporters leapt to his defence, one man admitting he cooked a ‘Lancashire hotpot’ despite not hailing from Lancashire.
TV chef Oliver, famous for his documentary series highlighting the poor nutritional value of British school dinners, was probably hoping that his microwavable jerk rice would go down a treat with the general public.
But Labour MP Dawn Butler led a salvo of outrage against the TV chef by accusing him of appropriating Jamaican culture in his new business venture. She also asked if he really knew about traditional Jamaican jerk, which is a cooking style where meat is rubbed and marinated with a mixture of spices.
“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. Your jerk rice is not okay. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop,” Butler tweeted.
Not everyone was upset, however, with many Twitter users backing the chef to experiment and take inspiration from other cultures. Meanwhile others poked fun at Butler’s outrage, with comedian Jonathan Pie sarcastically declaring Oliver a “racist” for making boil-in-the-bag rice.
The new rice product promises an “awesome spice mix” and “jerk marinade” of garlic, ginger and jalapenos, but a number of people took umbrage at Oliver’s use of the word ‘jerk’ to promote the meal.
In a statement, Jamie Oliver said that by using the term ‘jerk’ his intention was to show where he got the inspiration for the rice.
A large number of people were annoyed that Oliver had used the term ‘jerk’ on a vegetarian dish when traditionally it involves the process of marinating meat like chicken or pork.
Jamaican-born chef Levi Roots, who has previously worked with Oliver, said he believed his colleague’s management had made “a mistake.” He has jokingly challenged Oliver to a bizarrely named “jerk-off” – presumably to test who can make the finest Jamaican marinade.