What about his Italian? Jamie Oliver accused of cultural appropriation over Jamaican jerk rice

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.

It's about Jamie Oliver making money from it & calling it something it can't possibly be. You can't jerk rice.

— Richj61 (@richj61) August 20, 2018

“Im 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 Butlers outrage, with comedian Jonathan Pie sarcastically declaring Oliver a “racist” for making boil-in-the-bag rice.

I always knew Jamie Oliver was a fucking racist. Come on people its time to realise that white people should only be eating and cooking white peoples food.

— Jonathan Pie (@JonathanPieNews) August 20, 2018

Last night Channel 4 showed a disturbing programme in which a young chef named Jamie Oliver (?) celebrated the cuisine of Italy, even though he appears to be from Essex. Who will join me in speaking out against this appalling cultural appropriation? #JamieCooksItaly

— Julian Jessop (@julianHjessop) August 21, 2018

One man sarcastically admitted to similar appropriation by saying he had cooked a Lancashire dish despite being from Kent.

After reading Dawn Butlers attack on Jamie Olivers cultural appropriate of jerk rice I must own up to the fact that I cooked a Lancashire hotpot last night despite being from Kent.

— Phil Patterson (@phil11936) August 20, 2018

Now while I do think Jamie needs taking down a peg or three you're all getting very silly over this appropriation stuff. If no one cooked/ate food from other cultures in the world what a boring life we'd lead.

— Sabriel (@SabrielClayr) August 18, 2018

Are you honestly saying that white people cant cook food from other cultures in case they get it slightly wrong?

— Benjamin Tucker (@Ben1jammin) August 18, 2018

Conservative Party MP Neil OBrien also aimed a sardonic jab at his Labour rival by suggesting that Butler would be really mad once she found out about the chefs recipe book about Italian food. Others suggested that Oliver should be prevented from cooking his famous Italian dishes given that he is from Clavering, Essex.

If Jamie Oliver isnt allowed to make Jerk chicken because its cultural “appropriation” shes going to go mad when she finds out about “Jamies Italy”

— Neil O'Brien MP (@NeilDotObrien) August 18, 2018

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

Haven't been following this Jamie Oliver Jerk Chicken thing, but I do keep seeing signs on restaurants that say "Jamie's Italian" which I'm pretty sure is not correct. Wikipedia says he's from Essex

— Daniel Barlow (@telent_net) August 21, 2018

Is it also offensive when Jamie Oliver releases an entire TV series & book on Italian cuisine?

— Jack (@JackA171293) August 20, 2018

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 Olivers 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.


You have taken the absolute piss here Jamie, you haven't even had the decency to figure out what jerk seasoning is never mind the fact that you can't jerk/BBQ rice!

Just stop it!

— Leece (@LeeceNel) August 20, 2018

For anyone who is unbothered about @jamieoliver and his Jerk rice let me tell you in Jamaica there is NO such thing as jerk rice only jerk pork or chicken.

— Diana BSc (@PrinceessDi) August 20, 2018

So funny watching all these people misunderstand what the issue is you CANNOT 'jerk' rice. To jerk is a PROCESS and a seasoning. When last did you marinade rice ppl ??

— Chardine TaylorStone (@misschazmatazz) August 20, 2018

Anyone that offers you "Jerk Rice" is 100% a serial killer.

— tobi (@bobimono) August 20, 2018

Jamaican-born chef Levi Roots, who has previously worked with Oliver, said he believed his colleagues 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.

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