This is a complete hybrid of different rice pudding recipes; American rice pudding, Indian rice pudding and Thai coconut sticky rice with mango. All combined through my love for coconut rice and mango, which I have my Jamaican roots to thank. I have to admit, I actually thought to myself is this recipe culinary appropriation?
There has been a lot of talk about appropriation in cooking. Alison Roman first, then most recently Bon Appetit have come under fire for not giving some cultures the credit they deserve for inspiration behind a lot of their recipes. I didn’t necessarily see it that way. I thought why can’t they just love cooking and pull from all of their favorite cultures and interpret them through their lens. I realized that was a little naive of me. Especially when a lot of cooks of color struggle to get the recognition they deserve.
This may be a little controversial but when we visited Asheville, we could not wait to go to Buxton Hall BBQ (voted #9 Best New Restaurant by Bon Appetit in 2016, which I see now was part of the problem). Well we went and it was underwhelming. I could not understand why this restaurant received so much acclaim to have been so marginal. Was it intriguing because someone who was white had a semi-modern take on southern food? There are mom and pop restaurants who never get this type of recognition and have a amazing southern food. It clicked to me that their food could be superior but they may never receive acknowledgement because their restaurant’s ultimately aren’t sexy. Think about Prince’s Hot Chicken, it was the original but Hattie B’s has become an institution with multiple locations.
I mean what’s interesting about black people and southern food, right? Actually, a lot. The amount of food history black Americans have with southern food is immeasurable, the knowledge of being able to turn nothing into something is like a super power, but for whatever reason there has yet to be significant recognition. This is why calling out appropriation is important and worth conversing about. Now, I know this is just the tip of an iceberg and this seems to happen in general to chefs/cooks of color. Hopefully, we are starting to head in the right direction and the people cooking truly delicious food will start to get the recognition they deserve, regardless of the color of their skin.
Now, back to my original question to myself. Is this recipe appropriation? The more I thought about it, the more I came to the conclusion, no. I mention the original inspirations for this recipe and my connection to them. I think as long as you give credit where credit is due you are admitting this wasn’t 100% an original idea, not that anything is but its important to say that, if it wasn’t plucked 100% from your brain.
- 1 -14 ounce can coconut milk (full fat)
- ¾ cup basmati rice
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cardamom pod, smashed
- 3 cups whole milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- ½ cup sugar
- ½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
- fresh chilled ripe mango, chopped
- Bring coconut milk, rice, salt, cardamom pod and ¼ cup of water to a simmer in heavy large saucepan over medium-high heat. Reduce heat and cover. Simmer until water is absorbed, about 10 minutes. Add milk, cream, and sugar. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Increase heat to medium; cook uncovered until rice is tender and mixture thickens slightly to a soft, creamy texture, stirring occasionally, about 35 minutes.
- Remove pudding from heat and discard cardamom pod and vanilla bean. Divide pudding evenly among small bowls. Serve warm with chilled chopped mango.