In Defense of the American Melting Pot

In the realm of food, no foods are more iconic in American society than hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza, sushi, tacos and barbecue. All of these things originated from the melting pot experience. Hamburgers and hot dogs were brought to America by German immigrants. The concepts of Bratwurst and the Hamburger Rundstuk evolved over time as businesses adapted the recipe over years within the context of the free marketplace in America to cater to the tastes of as many of the different groups as they could who resided there. American pizza, the pride of New York and Chicago, differs dramatically from its European counterpart, as does American sushi with its focus on rolls and different types of combinations and sauces.

A rundstuck from the town of Hamburg, the precursor to the American hamburger.

By most accounts, the Mexican burrito, a staple of American cuisine, was not popular in Mexico and didn’t blast off in popularity until 1923 when a man named Alejandro Borquez opened a cafe in Los Angeles. In recent years, Korean tacos have become very popular in LA — a fusion of American Mexican cuisine and Korean marinated meats and ingredients that couldn’t have happened in any other country in the world.

The melting pot concept, unfortunately, is under attack by a very recent, trendy political concept called cultural appropriation. Now, I don’t want to make an anti-cultural appropriation article because I tend to be for things, not against things. America, a young nation only two and a half hundred years old, is still building its culture. At the bedrock of American culture is the concept of the American melting pot. This is the place where people come from around the world to be free. Creating barriers to the very concept of the melting pot, as cultural appropriation does, undercuts the very foundation of the melting pot process that has achieved so many iconic contributions to American life.

The rationale for this trend is based on American imperialism and resentment that white people adopt things from other cultures. The American melting pot is not something that only white people participate in — for instance, take the Korean taco example above — but barring one group from participating in this experience does no favors to our nation. Rap, for instance, an incredible musical genre originating from the American black community has exploded worldwide: whites participate in it, as do Asians, Europeans, and every other culture in the world. Americans of all stripes love to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and Dia de Muertos, and preventing them from participating does two things: 1) it robs the contributing group from the exploding popularity and acceptance of their culture; and 2) it prevents the melting pot process of cultural fusion that will make it, over time, something that all Americans have ownership of.

Korean tacos, seen here looking delicious before being hastily devoured seconds later by the photographer

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