Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

The word Spanish golfer, Sergio Garcia used in answering a reporter’s question about the status of his current relationship with his rival, Tiger Woods on May 21st – “We’ll have him ‘round every night. We will serve fried chicken,” was bitterly criticized as an offensive and retrograding remark by media and most of audience, and he apologized.

This reminds me of the classic episode that Japanese Prime Minister, Hayato Ikeda made a slip of tongue in the Diet on December 7, 1950, and was forced to resign by saying “The poor are better to eat barley-mixed rice,” in reference to the administration's austerity policy.

But this blunder wasn't about the race, but was about the class. Until post WW II, barley-mixed rice had been considered as the poor’s staple in our country.

Are there any other foods that carry political correct implications that non-native English speakers should be mindful in speaking / writing English than fried chicken?

share|improve this question
3  
Not really what you're looking for but there is all the rank idiocy associated with renaming Frech fries to freedom fries. –  terdon May 28 '13 at 19:17
11  
Watermelon has pretty much the exact connotation as fried chicken. –  Ben May 28 '13 at 19:25
3  
Corn pone and grits probably carry far more negative associations to the average Brit. We know what fried chicken actually is (plenty of us eat it, obviously). But all we know about corn pone and grits is that they're associated with the American Deep South (so by a variation on Munch hausen's Syndrome by Proxy, they're foodstuffs associated with racism! :) –  FumbleFingers May 28 '13 at 21:07
3  
Other foods traditionally associated with black people in the U.S. South are collard greens, fatback, and chitlins (or chitterlings—hog intestines). Black-eyed peas, grits, and molasses are less race-identified, but all are definitely Southern and (perhaps more to the point) widely considered poor folks' food. –  Sven Yargs May 28 '13 at 21:39
3  
Fried chicken is not any more politically incorrect than boiled-egg or potato unless used in a context with offensive connotations. –  Kris May 29 '13 at 6:37
show 11 more comments

6 Answers

up vote 21 down vote accepted

The remark Garcia made was criticized specifically as being racist, because Tiger Woods is a black man and fried chicken is stereotypically associated with blacks/African Americans. There's tons of potentially offensive food/racial combinations like this, and it really depends on what race you're talking about. These may be specific to the US.

  • African Americans: Fried chicken, watermelon, fruit-flavored sodas/beverages like Kool-aid or orange soda
  • Hispanics/Latinos: Beans, Tex-Mex food like tacos/nachos/burritos
  • Asians (of any nationality): Chop Suey, Dog/cat meat
  • Native Americans: Alcohol, particularly whiskey.

There's lots more stereotypical foods that you could list, depending on nationality. It's just that the ethnic groups being stereotyped aren't subject to as much racism as the first few I listed so they aren't considered to be as offensive, although they are still kind of rude. A few more examples:

  • French: Frog Legs, Cheese
  • Irish: Potatoes, Alcohol
  • Canadians: Various northern animals like Moose or Beaver
  • Germans: Sausage, Sauerkraut
share|improve this answer
11  
As to Native Americans and whiskey, a particularly careful bigot will use the word "firewater", to make sure you get the point. –  T.E.D. May 28 '13 at 21:19
4  
I'll just like to confirm the answerer's comment about many of the food/racial combinations being US-specific. As a Brit, I didn't understand the quotation in the original questions, and the only ones quoted in the above answer that I recognise are the French, Irish & German ones. –  TrevorD May 28 '13 at 22:38
2  
The phrase is politically incorrect only when used in a context where it could be so construed as being offensive. The media and some in the audience heckled over a non-issue. –  Kris May 29 '13 at 6:35
    
Canada: Doughnuts, specifically, jelly filled –  RhysW May 29 '13 at 14:55
    
I would recommended adding "Rice" to the Asian stereotype list -- I've actually seen that more often than the two you listed. –  Ben Lee May 31 '13 at 19:03
add comment

It is not the name of a food that necessarily causes problems, but the association of some characteristic or activity with some group in a way that marginalizes them.

In some cases, affinity for certain foods is part of a negative stereotype. In 2008, Fuzzy Zoeller made rather ill-received comments about Tiger Woods choosing fried chicken and collard greens for the Masters Champion Dinner; these foods, along with watermelon, corn bread, and others were long used in racist iconography, owing to a supposed predilection for them among African-Americans. The derogatory term beaner similarly refers to the presence of pinto beans in the Mexican diet, and the old-fashioned slur mackerel snapper refers to the old Catholic practice of eating fish on Fridays.

But one needn't refer to a comprehensively developed stereotype to offend. To reduce any group of people to a single trait is inherently problematic. If you call the French team beret-wearers, you are clearly trying to stir up animosity against them— even though not only is there nothing wrong with wearing berets, but there's no evidence that the French wear them any more often than people of any other nationality. It's simply a cheap association because the word beret is French in origin and pronunciation.

share|improve this answer
add comment

In the UK, we sometimes, politically-incorrectly, refer to French people as "Frogs", because they eat frogs' legs. (They in turn refer to us as "Rosbif", or "Roast Beef").

The US refer to us as "Limeys" because our sailors used to eat limes (the idiom "limey bastard" is still very much in use).

There are also a lot of jokes about Latvians and potatoes.

Other than that, there are a lot of words which are used to describe people, bodily parts, acts, etc. with sexual connotations, including crumpet, cherry, pork, nuts.

Also be careful of mentioning any kind of sausage, including bologna, salami, hotdogs and particularly wieners.

share|improve this answer
    
According to the Latvian citizen that I share an office with, this association is confusing Latvia with Lithuania. In Lithuania, the majority of traditional dishes are made with potatoes. This is not so in Latvia. –  Gusdor May 29 '13 at 9:10
    
Right, and African Americans don't actually all eat fried chicken. But people do make jokes and comments which are politically incorrect about different countries / cultures / races and their food, and they also make jokes about Latvians and potatoes. Go figure. reddit.com/r/latvianjokes tumblr.com/tagged/latvian%20jokes sadanduseless.com/2012/12/latvian-jokes –  Lunivore May 29 '13 at 11:10
    
Don't shoot the messenger. It is a useful and relevant addition. –  Gusdor May 29 '13 at 11:23
    
Shooting was never intended; sorry if I wrote it in a way that came across that way. I would consider it a limitation of small, written comment format than any malice on my part :) I think I responded that way because you said "this association is confusing Latvia with Lithuania." Associations don't confuse anything - people do - and I hadn't confused any association at all. –  Lunivore May 29 '13 at 11:25
    
The semantic error was mine! –  Gusdor May 29 '13 at 11:34
show 4 more comments

As Marcus_33 points out, the most problematic instances in which someone refers to a particular food to disparage someone else involve foods associated with particular racial ethnic groups. Four U.S. epithets that specifically equate groups of people with a particular food are Beaner (Mexican/Latino), Frog (French), Kraut (German), and Limey (British). All are objectionable and well worth avoiding. Weirdly enough, the term Ricer arose in the United States about 10 or 15 years ago to refer to people who modify and customize automobiles from Asian countries to make them especially fast and powerful. I wouldn't use that term either.

In addition, foods sometimes come up in the service of political criticism. According to Robert Jewett, in Captain America and the Crusade Against Evil (2003),

A Republican media consultant suggested that, in the 1984 election, "it's the perfect gentleman versus the cowboy. ... Reagan is a healthy dose of macho, and Mondale is part of the Brie-and-chablis crowd."

This food-centric criticism caught on as a cultural critique, and for some years afterward, "brie and chablis" became a shorthand for the tastes of affluent (and depending on your political biases, effete) U.S. liberals, in contradistinction to an appetite for meat and potatoes (and perhaps Budweiser beer) that presumably marks one as a heartland American.

share|improve this answer
1  
Ricer is derived from Rice Burner, a (potentially deragatory) term for the cars themselves. –  Marcus_33 May 29 '13 at 12:23
add comment

Some North Africans and middle-easterners also get food-stereotyped. The Egyptians are often referred to as broad beans, Algerians as couscous, Algerian Kabylians as olive oil, Tunisians as harissa (a kind of hot sauce) and the Syrians as falafel or shawarma.

share|improve this answer
    
But are these politically incorrect? I wouldn't take offense at being called a hamburger-eating American. Do Syrians take offense at being called falafel eaters? –  H Stephen Straight Jun 4 '13 at 23:23
    
I guess you'd take offense if your country is referred to as the United States of Hamburgers.So would the Syrians or the Turkish if they get referred to as the Kebab or Shawarma republics. It's all in the intent –  Tanninah Jun 6 '13 at 12:03
add comment

Well, Bush administration types angry at the French refusal to participate in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, referred to them as "cheese-eating surrender monkeys." (They really meant "quiche-eating" but that presumably sounded too elitist.) And in a kind of reverse food-stereotyping, we were all supposed to refer to French fries as "freedom fries." Ah, the good old days!...

share|improve this answer
11  
"Cheese-eating surrender monkeys" is a line from a 1995 episode of The Simpsons, and popularized not by the administration but Jonah Goldberg, a columnist. –  choster May 28 '13 at 22:14
    
@choster: Quiet, you! We can't let silly things like facts get in the way of blaming Bush! –  Doresoom May 29 '13 at 13:31
add comment

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.