I am not a fussy eater. Taking me to a fancy restaurant for an “authentic” cuisine will probably be wasted on me. In fact, I am a sucker for cheap inauthentic dishes. I love General Tao’s chicken, sweet and sour pork, and chop suey, all apparently inventions of North American Chinatowns. Chicken tikka masala is one of my all-time favourite Indian dishes, but I read somewhere that a South Asian chef first came up with the recipe in Britain. Congee? Now that’s very Chinese. I am not particular, though. You can put any meat, seafood or vegetable in it for me. Or just the classic boiled water and rice, though I prefer it creamy rather than watery, and I put in an obscene amount of fermented tofu. That, I submit to you, is a classic Chinese breakfast and an acquired taste, since most foreigners and even some Chinese, would be sickened by the tofu mix I favour. The Breakfast Cure, an American food start-up that specialises in pre-packaged “wellness” congee, has been caught up in the past few days in another “cultural appropriation” media storm . The advertising has reportedly offended some Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, for whom it is a traditional cultural staple. Company founder Karen Taylor, a white person, has made the faux pas of not only praising the ancient wisdom and goodness of this traditional Chinese porridge, but also claiming to have “improved” and “modernised” congee “for the Western palate”. For that, she has been accused of “gentrifying” and “whitewashing” congee. It’s perfectly fine to say, for example, that you admire Bruce Lee and Ip Man. Unfortunately, you are courting controversy and online takedowns if you claim your style of martial arts is an improvement on theirs. It’s also unfortunate that her first name has, in recent years, become a widespread meme for a specific type of middle-class white woman who exhibits behaviours that supposedly stem from privilege and may involve alleged racist micro-aggressions. This particular Karen is probably a perfectly nice and inspired person. A trained acupuncturist and traditional Chinese medical practitioner, she is obviously an admirer of Chinese culture. And if imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I say, fire away with “cultural appropriation”. But we do live in culturally sensitive times. In any case, she and her company have admitted the error of their ways and have already overhauled their advertisements and company slogans, and even promised to donate a small portion of profits to racial justice causes. The latest cultural row follows recent similar incidents such as Lucky Lee’s, a smart-casual Chinese-American restaurant in New York that claimed to serve less “oily” and “icky” Chinese dishes; and Mahjong Line, a Dallas-based company that claimed to offer a “modern makeover” of the Chinese parlour game. US mahjong set maker apologises after being accused of cultural appropriation I often wonder whether there are really many people from ethnic minority communities who get offended by such incidents, or whether they are internet memes that snowball into news headlines. After all, you can find any opinion on any topic online to come up with a story on a slow news day. On the other hand, there are legions of social justice warriors across the United States and Canada alert to any possible social and racial offence being committed. So maybe people really do get upset over such things. In my own case, the fact that many of my fellow ethnic Chinese are suffering from random racist violence across North America concerns me much more. In a blog, Karen styles herself “the queen of congee”. That seems to rub some people up the wrong way. But “congee” has a very vague definition and its cooking and ingredients are not an exact science. Admittedly, I don’t usually put apple cinnamon, chia seeds, Romano beans, pineapples, berries, mango or Indian spices in my congee. Actually, I never thought of it, but I am willing to try. Sadly, not at US$14.95 a congee pack! I very much doubt they would improve, as Karen claims, my “spleen qi and yang”. Then again, all these years of eating congee never did that for me either. I also don’t want to pay a premium for gluten-free congee; I don’t have Crohn’s disease.