Death of the Nacho King: New at Reason

The death Frank Liberto, the "Father of Nachos," this week is a reminder that cultural appropriation's biggest enablers are clueless reporters who'll swallow any Montezuma's Revenge that PR hacks and Google feed them, Gustavo Arellano writes.

When I finally found the source for most of these origin stories, it turned out they were outright lies created to feed into American preconceptions of Mexicans as stupid, lazy beaners.

Such dereliction by writers not only erases Mexicans from their own history but becomes its own fuel for the hype fire that sets off most cultural appropriation controversies in the first place. Why look for Mexicans cooking Mexican food when it's easier to find whites and Asians doing the same? And why go to a Mexican restaurant run by Mexicans when they don't get the attention others do? You can't blame restaurateurs for wanting to make money, but you should blame the people whose job it is to promote the Next Big Thing.

If food writers (and social media influencers) would do actual journalism (or hire writers who know what the hell they're talking about), then most of the poster children for culinary cultural appropriation would get as much attention as a week-old bowl of guacamole and promptly disappear. Then social justice types could move on to bigger issues than whether it's OK that a Virginia housewife was the Johnny Appleseed of Mexican cooking in the U.S.

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