A Portland burrito eatery has shut down after the two white women who ran it were criticized for making food from a culture that wasn’t theirs.
The controversy began after the Willamette Week newspaper ran a standard restaurant profile on Kooks’ Burritos on May 16.
The two young owners, one with a tattoo of the iconic St. Johns Bridge on her arm, were pictured with burritos at their food cart.
The women said they learned burrito making tips while on a 2016 road trip to Puerto Nuevo, Mexico.
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“Kali Wilgus and Liz ‘LC’ Connelly lost their minds over tortillas,” the story said.
Now the pair have lost their business as well.
Accused of “cultural appropriation,” the women have shut down their food cart after a barrage of criticism and bad reviews.
Critics opened up after one of the women said in the story, “We were peeking into the windows of every kitchen.”
It’s a Mexican tradition to place the “tortilla lady” at a street side window where her techniques can be observed. But, the story didn’t elaborate.
Commenters accused them of stealing recipes and techniques from Mexican women.
Mic.com ran a story titled, “These white cooks bragged about stealing recipes from Mexico to start a Portland business.”
Like the church lady who refuses to hand over her famed casserole recipe, the Mexican women were reluctant to give their secrets to the American women. That was a red flag for some.
Portland’s other alternative paper, The Portland Mercury, said the “predatory” women had “colonized” the food style.
Judging by the comments on the Willamette Week piece, one would think the Kooks women had stolen an everlasting gobstopper from Willy Wonka.
Then the predictable backlash to the backlash began. A reader asked if famed (and presumably white) Portland restauranteur Andy Ricker should shut down his Asian-themed Pok Pok restaurants.
Others said it was a heaping pile of political correctness with fries.
“While I think cultural appropriation largely exists, I don't think it can be attributed to a (expletive) breakfast burrito stand,” one commenter said. “This episode of ‘Portlandia’ is getting way too real.”
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