Jamie Oliver has been accused of ‘cultural appropriation’ after deciding to name a new product ‘punchy jerk rice’, using the name for the popular Jamaican marinade but without using any of the traditional ingredients.
The issue was brought to the fore by a tweet from UK MP Dawn Butler.
“I’m just wondering do you know what Jamaican jerk actually is? It’s not just a word you put before stuff to sell products,” she wrote on Twitter. “Your Jerk Rice is not ok. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop.”
Jerk is a seasoning usually used on chicken, and is often barbecued. It generally contains allspice, scotch bonnet chillies, thyme, soy sauce, ginger, lime, garlic, onions and sugar. Oliver’s “punchy jerk rice” uses garlic, ginger and jalapenos.
Jamaican born chef Levi Roots, who once taught Jamie Oliver, has now weighed in, calling the dish a “mistake”.
“I don’t think it’s that serious,” he said, “I really don’t. Caribbean food for it to get to where we want it to get to we need to change things. You’ve got to know what jerk is. Jerk is either a method of cooking or it’s the marinade itself. If it doesn’t have these four things in it then you can’t refer it to jerk. You cannot call it jerk if it doesn’t have allspice.”