Eat, Prey, Love (Burrito Edition)

There may be no better soapbox for this outrage than the Portland Mercury.

Portland has an appropriation problem.

This week in white nonsense, two white women—Kali Wilgus and Liz “LC” Connely—decided it would be cute to open a food truck after a fateful excursion to Mexico. There’s really nothing special about opening a Mexican restaurant—it’s probably something that happens everyday. But the owners of Kooks Burritos all but admitted in an interview with Willamette Week that they colonized this style of food when they decided to “pick the brains of every tortilla lady there in the worst broken Spanish ever.”

You may wonder what exactly is meant by the peculiar use of the word “colonized,” one of the new-fangled code words for cultural appropriation.

“…You can eat $5 lobster on the beach,” Connelly said, “which they give you with this bucket of tortillas.” The “they” she was referring to were probably the Mexican “abuelitas” these two women preyed upon in order to appropriate the secrets of their livelihood.

In the old days, asking a question, even of an abuelita, was a good way to get an answer. Now, it’s preying, as if they put a knife to the old women’s throats.

So let’s recap the story thus far: These two white women went to Mexico, ate tacos, and then decided they would just take what the locals clearly didn’t want to give them. If that wasn’t bad enough, they decided to pack up all their stolen intellectual property and repackage it in one of the few places where such a business could plausibly work: Portland, Oregon.

It’s unclear why the writer, Jagger Blaec, is of the view that people outside of Portland don’t enjoy a good burrito. I like burritos. I know other people who like burritos. We’re not Portlandians. So what makes this a specifically plausible Portlandia problem?

Week after week people of color in Portland bear witness to the hijacking of their cultures, and an identifiable pattern of appropriation has been created. Several of the most successful businesses in this town have been birthed as a result of curious white people going to a foreign country, or an international venture, and poaching as many trade secrets, customs, recipes as possible, and then coming back to Portland to claim it as their own and score a tidy profit. Now don’t get me wrong: cultural customs are meant to be shared. However, that’s not what happens in this city.

Because of Portland’s underlying racism, the people who rightly own these traditions and cultures that exist are already treated poorly. These appropriating businesses are erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.

Damn, erasing and exploiting. And all these two women tried to do was make delicious burritos. Instead, the Portlandia Effect kicked in. If you happen to be passing through Portland and feel in the mood for a great burrito, don’t bother looking for Kooks Burritos.

Well, you’re too late. Kooks Burritos has closed shop.

The shuttering happened just a few days after the Willamette Week’s story hit the internet. And along with the rapid-fire closure, the owners deleted much of Kooks Burritos’ online presence, Portland’s Eater said.

What happened that they were compelled to shut down their food truck?

The women became the subject of local editorials and, of course, fucking Mic.com fanned the flames with an article, “These white cooks bragged about stealing recipes from Mexico to start a Portland business.”

The company’s Yelp reviews are flooded with one-star reviews from the PC police, using terms like “white mediocrity” and “Latinx” while comparing Kooks Burritos to colonialism.

Did these two horrible white women do anything to prevent anyone else from making delicious burritos? Nope. But that isn’t the point when it comes to cultural appropriation, to “erasing and exploiting their already marginalized identities for the purpose of profit and praise.” The only point is that in the scheme of social justice, there are rules as to who is allowed to do what, and other than make ham sandwiches on white bread with mayo or starting a marching band, these abuelita abusers were horrifying and exhausting, intolerable and evil.

As these are the weapons of tolerance and equality, to protect “vulnerable” people from exploitation, is it hard to understand why the PC authoritarianism isn’t spreading like a warm glow across the nation? And for those SJWs who believe they can still believe in the righteousness of their cause, while conceding that this might be a bit too far, it doesn’t work that way. You are just as much a (insert epithet of choice) as any racist. When it comes to social justice, one either adheres to the orthodoxy or one is a heretic.

51 thoughts on “Eat, Prey, Love (Burrito Edition)

  1. nodandsmile

    I understand I’m not allowed to introduce the triple face palm, but… just f*kin wow

  2. B. McLeod

    I was in Portland a few years ago for a visit, and was surprised to see the homeless everywhere and the plethora of all-but-abandoned public infrastructure. The “Progressives” who hold sway there have reduced Portland to a slum. Now, it appears they begrudge their homeless even a genuine burrito. Appalling.

    1. SHG Post author

      But they have designer donuts, including the beloved maple bacon. Surely, that must count for something?

      1. Nigel Declan

        Maple bacon doughnuts? That sounds like cultural appropriation of our trade secrets and intellectual property from up here in the Great White North. Is there a hotline or something I should call to get these thevious hosers shut down?

        1. Charles

          It’s only cultural appropriation if we start including them in fast-food combo meals.

  3. REvers

    Maybe it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if North Korea could lob nukes at the West Coast.

  4. Patrick Maupin

    Is “Latinx” a brown version of “Spanx”?

    Because I’ve seen some…

    Well, nevermind.

  5. kushiro

    Well, great. I was hoping to one day eat an authentic burrito made by an actual Mexican person. And now I can’t, because they’ve all been erased. ERASED!

    1. SHG Post author

      I think this is a lie promoted by eraser manufacturers now that number 2 pencils have fallen out of favor.

  6. wilbur

    As it happens, I am not of Mexican ancestry. Is it cultural appropriation should I purchase and eat a burrito? Does it depend upon from whom I purchase it?

    And is it “appropriation” or “misappropriation”? They seemed to used interchangeably.

    Wilbur needs to know these things to stave off giving offense to the world at large.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        When they outlaw burritos, only outlaws will have burritos.

        You can have my burrito when you pry it from my cold dead hands.

  7. David

    The food truck owners did say that the Mexican women weren’t willing to share techniques and that they peeked into windows to learn what to do. Hence, one assumes, the references in the story to trade secrets and intellectual property.

    1. SHG Post author

      You do realize that’s insanely idiotic, and your going out of your way to repeat such idiocy as if it wasn’t mindnumbingly stupid does you no credit, right? Remember, just because some blithering idiot said something mindnumbingly stupid does not require you to repeat it. You have free will.

      1. David

        Good, you’re back to normal, I was worried recently…

        Their speaking of peeking in seeking (okay, no more rhymes) their techniques because the Mexican cooks were unwilling to explain, gave more of a reason for people to get up on their moral soapbox (however unjustified it may be, and even if they might have done so anyway because of so-called appropriation).

        And however stupid the reference to intellectual property you bolded may have been, it was somewhat less stupid (even if still in that ballpark) given the statement suggesting some surreptitiousness.

        1. SHG Post author

          Well that changes everything, because if it was abundantly clear the first time, evoking my normal reaction, it’s always better the second.

        2. Davix

          The problem SHG raises, which is what apparently made that whooshing sound over your head, is that calling something trade secrets and IP that isn’t may be perfectly fine for people with no grasp of law, but this is a law blog and you (obviously not a lawyer) found it worthwhile to explain this so as to make everyone who reads your comment stupider.

          The point is to not make people stupider. As in, don’t do it once. Don’t do it twice. Don’t do it. Don’t make people stupider.

          1. SHG Post author

            I suspect the first comment was a sincere effort by a non-lawyer to “explain” something when he didn’t understand why the explanation was idiotic. The second time, that’s just Dunning-Kruger.

            1. David

              IAAL with IP experience, though of course I wasn’t giving legal advice – that you would have to pay me for and then I wouldn’t give it anyway for jurisdictional and insurance reasons.
              I just found the notion of trade secrecy in cooking techniques shared by a group intriguing enough to not call it idiotic (even if it was stupid, it was not that far along the spectrum), and distinguishing this from the typical cultural appropriation claim as there’s at least a moral non-legal argument there was appropriation by surveillance, of information that the Mexican cooks refused to share. Like peeking into KFC’s windows not to try to learn the recipe, but to learn their technique for frying chicken.

            2. SHG Post author

              There is always a place for the “moral non-legal” argument here. Oh wait. that’s reddit. Sorry.

            3. Nigel Declan

              What a fortuitous coincidence, then, that the self-appointed guardian ad litem for not only every single burrito-eating adult in Portland but for Mexico and Mexican culture itself was a columnist for a local publication. Otherwise, the crime against social justice of inauthentic cuisine (widely accepted as the first step on the slippery slope towards barbarism) might have gone unpunished.

  8. Patrick Maupin

    Flour tortillas such as Kooks made their burritos from are an abomination of Jewish origin. The whole thing kind of puts Hitler’s mindset in perspective, but I say live and let live. Can we export all those SJWs to Mexico and refocus them on letting the Jews keep their stupid flour and getting this continent back to God’s corn? Asking for a friend.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        I thought it was de rigueur to mention Hitler whenever discussing Jews these days.

  9. anonymous coward

    I don’t get it, where are the Mexicans being squeezed out of the business by cultural appropriation? Beaverton and Hillsboro (the western suburbs of Portland) are full of taco trucks and restaurants owned by Mexicans, and I doubt the folks running La Morenita or Don Pedro’s even noticed Kook’s Burritos. These self proclaimed “social justice warriors” seem to spend a lot of time being outraged over tiny slights and attacking weak targets instead of more serious issues. Apparently Taco Bell and Chipotle get a free pass, as does income inequality, health care and the latest idiotic executive order because white people making burritos is the most heinous crime. No wonder their candidate lost the election and social justice isn’t taken seriously.

    1. SHG Post author

      It’s just outrage in search of a target. Even if the two women did “squeeze out” a Mex burrito truck, so what? In America, people are allowed to go into business, make something delicious and sell it, even if their ancestry is wrong, even if they “steal” the recipe from abuelita, even if it’s someone else’s culture. This is the land of opportunity, for Mexicans and white women, if they make a tasty enough burrito.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        Squeezing out a burrito truck sounds painful, to say the least.

        At least Abuelita can probably give you a folk remedy for that.

        1. B. McLeod

          Gotta, gotta stop eating Mexican food before things go that far. You squeeze out JUST ONE of those, and you’ll never be the same again.

  10. Billy Bob

    This bifurcation of differing aculterations de jure gotta stoppa! Can’t we all just get along?
    Over a kooky burrito recipe? Puhleeeze! Come to Nu Yawk, you will not have a problem. The Left Coast is lost in a Lost World, trust it. Been there, done that.

  11. Just Me

    Here’s my meditation: what would have happened if these entrepreneurs had only accepted Bitcoin in exchange for their burritos? On one hand cultural appropriation bad, on the other hand Portland techno-geek good. i wonder where the balance between moral outrage and hacker-hip lies?

    1. SHG Post author

      This is where the hierarchy of victimhood comes into play. Between Mexican and bitcoin, race wins. Between Mexican and black lesbian transsexual with bitcoin, Mexican loses. It’s hard to keep track of, as it changes from day to day.

  12. Charles

    FWIW, when you click through to the Williamette Week article, the list of “Most Read” articles on the right currently reads:

    1) Kooks Serves Pop-Up Breakfast Burritos With Handmade Tortillas Out of a Food Cart on Cesar Chavez
    2) My Dad Is From Mexico. I Can’t Get Mad At Kooks Burritos.
    3) People Just Don’t Want to Move to Portland Like They Used To
    4) White Supremacists Are Brawling with Masked Leftists in the Portland Streets. Homeland Security is Watching.

      1. Patrick Maupin

        “Driven out of business” could be due to a SJW-induced precipitous drop in customers, or could imply fear of real or imagined crazies, or could simply be a convenient excuse to justify being one of the myriad businesses that just doesn’t make it.

  13. Dan

    I always thought that “cultural appropriation”, as it’s now called, was, if not necessarily the point, at least a known and celebrated feature of this country. Great American Melting Pot and all that.

      1. bud

        “Great Melting Pot” is first defined as a microagression on the way to making the concept a cultural hot potato, because it’s damned hard to divide and conquer when there’s nothing to divide.
        For every 10 or 20 useful idiots parroting this line, there’s, at the base, a hard core leftist doing their best to tear down Amerikkka so they can install Utopia, with themselves running things (for your own good, of course).

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