Epicurious is to correct cultural mistakes with one recipe at a time

New York – With a new black editor-in-chief and an ambitious promise, a small corner of the Condé Nast Universe covers racial and cultural injustice in one recipe at a time.

Since July, a small staff member at Epicurious, a home cook resource site, has scrutinized 55 years of recipes from various Condé Nast magazines for unpleasant titles, ingredient lists, and stories told through white American lenses. looking for.

“After a lot of awareness among editors and staff, we came after Black Lives Matter,” said David Tamarkin, White Digital Director of Epicurious. That’s how we can do better. Born from a conversation about. Did we fail, and where did our predecessor fail? “

This work, called the Archive Restoration Project, is also the result of complaints and controversies at Condé Nast. But that’s just one of the full-scale efforts of the initiative, said Sonia Chopra, who has been the editor-in-chief of Bon Appetit and Epicurious for about four months and works under the new editor-in-chief, Dawn Davis.

Overall, the 25-year-old site (10 staff) is a huge repository of 35,000 recipes from Bon Appetit, Gourmet, Self, House & Garden, and Epicurious itself. They date back to 1965.

“The language we use to talk about food has certainly evolved significantly from the 1960s to the 1990s. As journalists and people working in the food media, we can see that it reflects us. I think it’s our duty. That’s right. “

Epicurious and Bonapetti are at the heart of the accusations that plague others in the food industry. We underestimate the color staff, perpetuate structural racism, and engage in racism and sexism. Some of these issues were raised earlier this year by several Bon Appetit employees in a racist allegation after editor-in-chief Adam Lapaport resigned from the 2004 Halloween “brown face” photo. I resigned.

Condé Nast’s research apologized and pledged to pay equal pay for equal work, expand the education of unconscious prejudice, plan inclusion and diversity, etc., but the archive restoration project is underway is.

According to Tamarkin and Chopra, most of the traffic on the Epicurious site goes to the archive, most of which includes articles and other editing tasks as well as recipes.

“Because it’s such an old site, there are lots of ideas about American food that actually goes through the white lens. American food is Mexican-American, Indian-American, and Nigerian-American. I know that is the kind of food that is actually done every day in this country. “

One of the first problems “repaired” was the use of the word “exotic”.

“I don’t think the word is appropriate, but it’s still across the site,” Tamarkin said. “It’s a pain for me, and I’m sure others.”

Another word that needed to be removed was a reference to Lime, including racial slurs, specifically directed to South African black Africans.

Other terms such as “genuine” and “ethnic” are also found in the repair.

“I think it’s really what the food media and the media in general are thinking, not just the Condé Nast brand,” Chopra said.

Since July, when Tamarkin outlined the project on Epicurious, he and his staff have modified about 200 recipes and other work. Some repairs, such as the entire story about a grocery store’s “ethnic” aisle, are more complicated than deleting a single word.

“We have published a recipe with a headnote that does not properly evaluate the inspiration of the dish or degrades the dish to which the dish belongs. We can make the recipe faster or familiar with the American taste. The aim is to “better” the recipe by exchanging ingredients that may or may not be easy to find. We guessed “amazing” or “strange” ingredients and techniques (sometimes fully labeled). We also publish the terms that were widely accepted in food writing at the time, and we now always recognize that we are racists, “writes Tamarkin.

He states: “Sure, our edits may not be sufficiently advanced. Some repairs require repairs.”

For Bonapetti, that’s exactly what happened when protests among readers made multiple changes, including headnotes and references to Haiti in the pumpkin soup recipe presented by guest editor Marcus Samuelsson. is. The magazine called it soup joumou. This is a beloved Haiti staple that symbolizes the bloody liberation of French colonists.

It wasn’t soup, it was what Samuelson intended as a homage. The magazine has adopted an entry in one of his cookbooks, The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food. Bonapetti and black Samuelson apologized after a call for erasure and cultural appropriation.

Much of the food media faces racial and ethnic influences. This may be due to the dominance of whites at the highest level in the field. For example, in an Epicurious repair project, only 31% of people who identify and modify archives are colored staff.

Chopra said a broader plan is underway.

“We are committed to building a comprehensive and thoughtful team, which means we are constantly evaluating and reassessing our policies and processes. Best practices for the transition to 2021 with new leadership. We’re looking at everything from hiring to confirming communication and collaboration between teams and platforms, “added Chopra.

Meanwhile, Tamarkin and his crew are slowly repairing the archive at Epicurious. In Epicurious, “Asian” is no longer the name of cold rice noodle salad, and Baduvan Spice Blend has lost its mention as “exotic.”

“Many of these problems were caused by a lack of thoughtfulness, so the solution now needs to be thoughtful,” says Tamarkin.

Copyright 2020 AP communication. all rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.

Epicurious is to correct cultural mistakes with one recipe at a time

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