Circle Jerk

To get things started, this:

Jamie Oliver has said he named his new product “punchy jerk rice” to show where he drew his culinary inspiration from.

Oliver’s rice mixes garlic, ginger and jalapenos “to create a jerk marinade with attitude”.

I know a lot of people like Oliver’s cheeky Essex-boy shtick and lord knows it’s made him rich, but boy I find it irritating. I’ve tried using his recipes before and they’re full of silly descriptions and flippant remarks, often in places where you need some clear direction. The informal, who-cares approach may have worked when he burst onto the scene as a young man with The Naked Chef, but now he’s 43 and so laid back he wants the government to tell everyone what they can and can’t feed their children, he sounds like someone who’s never grown up. And the problem with trying to be popular and down wiv the masses (even though his fan base is exclusively middle class) is he attracts the attention of idiots like Dawn Butler:

In a tweet the Shadow Equalities Minister wrote to Oliver: “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. Levi Roots should do a masterclass. Your jerk rice is not OK. This appropriation from Jamaica needs to stop.”

If Britain was a serious country and adults were in charge the pressing question on everyone’s minds would be how such a complete imbecile has attained elected office. Instead, everyone is running around contesting the absurdity which is “cultural appropriation”, as if logic and reason are answers to a child flinging shit. Butler should have been ignored or mocked into oblivion, but instead she’s generating headlines.

And this amuses me:

The chef and entrepreneur Levi Roots has described Jamie Oliver’s decision to launch a jerk rice dish as a mistake, as a row over cultural appropriation widened.

From what I remember, Levi Roots turned up on Dragon’s Den with a guitar and some of his grandmother’s homemade sauce. Pasty-white Englishman Peter Jones, who is good mates with the bloke in charge of purchasing for Sainsbury’s, agreed to back Roots for a hefty cut of the business. One phone call to his mate later and kerr-ching! Instant success. Now Roots has gone onto open some successful restaurants which is more than Jamie Oliver managed, and I don’t begrudge him his fame and fortune. But I don’t see how Roots getting Peter Jones to flog his grandma’s sauce into Sainsbury’s makes him an authority on Jamaican cooking, much less one who deems it appropriate to tell another chef what to do. Does he even have a chef’s qualification, as French chefs must in order to be taken seriously? No, he doesn’t.

So in summary, we have a politician telling an unqualified chef/guitarist to teach a former pastry chef, who may have made a pig’s ear of a dish, to give a masterclass on how to do it properly. Little wonder British cuisine is subject to global mockery; the problem is, with stories like this making front page news, the mockery is no longer restricted to the food.

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34 thoughts on “Circle Jerk

  1. Clearly I’m missing something.
    “Jerk” = a quick sharp sudden movement.
    Also a synonym for “wank” (masturbate).

    I’m wondering at the process Mr. Oliver used to arrive at the name for his rice. And who was expected to buy it.

    Clearly I’m missing a key point.
    To me, he may as well have called it “salty wank”.

    Btw, what DO Jamaicans get up to, besides armed robbery & the like?

    I’ve a feeling I’ve just blown my cover as “well travelled man of the world”.

  2. Food not native to Jamaica:
    rice, pork, beef, chicken, olives, horses, cabbage, cane sugar, barley, wheat, lemons, oranges, coffee, bananas…
    That Labour MP is a jerk.

  3. Someone over on the other Timmy’s blog put it best:
    “These people need to stop culturally appropriating white man’s electricity”.

  4. What does a “Shadow Equalities Minister” actually do? It sounds rather sinister.
    Or is it a fancy diversity title and going around making inane pronouncements is the job description?

  5. I guess what Ms. Butler is really saying is “Hi! I’m your MP! I know few of you are all that interested in politics, but I’m black, and of Jamaican heritage, and because lots of you are also in those categories you might want to consider voting for me on the basis of that information.
    I’ve got nothing against Jamie Oliver, of course, and you’re just as likely to hear me sounding off about slavery reparations, cricket, knife crime, and that “Windrush” business”.

  6. Quite remarkable.
    A Labour MP so dim she makes me support Jamie!

    I guess she is doing the 15W bulb job for Jizza that Rudd did for May.

    (Alongside a 15W bulb, even a 25W bulb looks bright)

  7. Amusing thing is, there is no Jamaican culture. Original Jamaicans died out not long after Colombus. All culture in Jamaica is appropriation of somebody else’s. Including their made up Rastafari religion.
    Probably why the rest of the Carribbean regards them as a bunch of thieves.

  8. It has been said by minds greater than mine, that cultural appropriation is mostly people from the third world getting on planes or using mobile phones.

    Can this be true?

  9. The sad fact is that a lot of people in the UK are morons about food. In a generation, we’ve replaced things like dinner parties where people strived to produce excellent food for their friends (and OK, some oneupmanship, but I’m all in favour of oneupmanship that raises standards) with people going out to eat at gimmicky restaurants or buying gimmicky food.

    Partly it was driven by the BBC. When Keith Floyd was a hit with his style of personality and food, everything became about the personality. Delia Smith quit TV because they wanted her to do more personality and less cooking and she wasn’t having it. She made food programmes to teach people to cook. She’s now online doing precisely that.

    I meet people who are like “the Reggae Reggae sauce is excellent”. And I doubt it. It’s an industrial product. It’s made for long preservation, probably based on panel testing. It’ll be fine, but you can make jerk marinade in 5 minutes. Ginger, garlic, spices, sugar, pepper. Put in a blender and whizz it. That’s it. It’s not like making vanilla ice cream or puff pastry (I’ve made the former and it’s amazing, but it takes all afternoon). And once you’ve done enough of making things, you understand things about flavours and techniques. You can take recipes and start changing things. Maybe you like the sauce sweeter or hotter. You can do that.

    It’s also led to the boom in restaurants. Because no-one knows cooking, they go out for even the simplest variations. They go out for pizza, whole families, regularly, when making pizzas is a doddle. They spend £75 on dinner that would cost less than £20 at home. It’s one of the worst trade-offs of time to cost around. Most women would do better taking Friday afternoon off unpaid and preparing a meal than going out Friday night.

  10. M4

    “you can make jerk marinade in 5 minutes. Ginger, garlic, spices, sugar, pepper.”
    Well I’d hazard a guess that all those ingredients are Old World crops. Maybe not the garlic?

    Letter in DT points out jerk is a Quecha dish from the Andes. Pub quiz time: what word has a Quecha etymology?

  11. “…the pressing question on everyone’s minds would be how such a complete imbecile has attained elected office. “

    But we already know the answer to that.

  12. Potato.
    One out of your five is from the Americas. Pepper.
    Whether “jerk” originates in Jamaica is doubtful. The combination turns up in brasilian cuisine, for a start. And, of course, “jerk” isn’t limited to Jamaica in the Caribbean. Other islands have similar dishes.

  13. The absolutely worst thing about this whole farrago is that one finds oneself actually on Oliver’s side about a subject.

    I feel dirty and sullied.

    Thank you Dawn…

  14. Levi admitted lying about his dear ol granny passing on his famous recipe. But he won his court case when his mate claimed authorship.

  15. Pepper is native to Kerala, S India.
    So that’s a clean sweep then. Not only are none of the ingredients Jamaican, they’re not even American.

    Can we put retrospective tariffs on the Columbian exchange? We could call it the Corn Flake Rice Crispies war.

  16. Andrew, from watching the video you linked, I reckon the black bloke ought to be severely reprimanded for culturally appropriating a necktie. Same goes for the bird wearing the spectacles. Tsk tsk.

  17. “Jerk” is an anglicised version of the Quechua “charqui” as zut alors! points out. Not actually a sauce but the dried, salted, shredded llama meat still popular in Peru and Bolivia. Jamaicans are thieves, Jaime Oliver is a gobby mockney cunt and Dawn Butler a stupid corrupt twat. That is all.

  18. Should a black woman be called a “shadow” anything? Sounds a bit racist. Is Jamie Oliver a reflective chef?

  19. The pepper used in jerk seasoning is usually from the capsicum family, a nightshade. So a plant of the Americas. I use cayenne

  20. I always though that the main argument for immigration from exotic countries was that people in the UK then got such a wide range of foods.

    Seems somewhat odd to me that that argument has now been debunked by what seem to be the same people who promoted it.

  21. May I square the circle (jerk) here? The point that struck me is jerk is a meat marinade. You get a piece of meat, cover it in the stuff and hit the grill. Jerk rice on the otherhand makes about as much sense as deep-fried jelly. So, you can still regard “cultural appropriation” with the contempt it deserves and regard Jamie Oliver as the mockney twat he is. Sorted.

  22. Usefully,another meaning of the word “jerk” is “A contemptibly foolish person.” Which in this case can equally be applied to Jamie Oliver, Levi Roots and Dawn Butler.

  23. Nick,

    You culturally insensitive racist. How dare you mock cherished delicacies of Scottish cuisine such as deep-fried jelly in such sneering tones. Apologise now!

  24. D-grade celeb brings out spiced rice in a bag.
    No one notices.
    Hopeless politician makes inane ‘racist’ comment.
    Spiced rice in a bag gets massive publicity.

    Do I smell a rat……or is it just the rice?

  25. From Wikipedia:
    “Stylistically, reggae incorporates some of the musical elements of rhythm and blues, jazz, mento (a celebratory, rural folk form that served its largely rural audience as dance music and an alternative to the hymns and adapted chanteys of local church singing),[7] calypso,[8] and also draws influence from traditional African folk rhythms. ”

    So, reggae music and therefore “Reggae Reggae Sauce” is utterly syncretic anyway (no bad thing). Jamaican culture is too of course. Think cricket for example. I recall the Dragon’s Den episode and the Dragons asked Levi Roots if that was his real name. He looked a bit bashful before ‘fessing up that he was actually called Keith. Still, a good hustle from the fella and I have bought it and liked it so fair play.

  26. “Pub quiz time: what word has a Quecha etymology?”

    The only words that I can think of are really commonly used in English are “poncho” (a sort of shit anorak) and “guano” (just shit really)

    Did I miss something?

  27. Coca and thereby Cocaine, Pedant-General?

    I’d recognise vicuna, llama, puma, and apparently pique too.

  28. Back when Jamie Oliver was cool, he got himself involved with feeding Rotherham’s young via ‘healthy’ school dinners.

    Ah, I remember it well… Mothers turning up at lunchtime to post chips through the school railings to keep their offspring alive. Can’t imagine why, but I bet Jamie’s not been back since.

  29. Chester Draws, do nouns like that actually count ? I mean they are names of animals and the Spaniards had no equivalent, I guess. A bit like why we don’t call kangaroos “Big Hoppity Rabbit Like Things”.

    Those of you of a certain age will remember the BBC comedy Rosie about a Yorkshire copper and the case of the Eight Foot Tall Goat.

  30. As was explained to me by the man grilling the jerk chicken in the cut-in-half 55-gallon drum outside of Negril forty years ago, the Jamaicans developed jerk seasoning because the average jerk-chicken grilling facility has no refrigeration, and chicken goes bad quickly, and so strong spice is needed to hide the taste of rot.

    So if your ex-Jamaican MP wants to take credit for THAT, let her. But make her be explicit about the roots of jerk.

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