I’ve grown up in a house permanently scented with garam masala and my Nani’s hand-ground jeera (cumin) powder. Where dinners included a list of spices longer than the ingredients and Sunday’s revolving around making atta (roti dough) from scratch. My childhood revolved around family gatherings with an abundance of food from recipes that have been passed down for generations. I’ve grown up eating foods ladened in spices that now have been commercialized for sweet frothy spice filled drinks. Why has an immense piece of South Asian culture marketed and now stereotyped as a “White Girl Thing?” Why is this okay?
Cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg are all pieces of me, pieces of my heritage. They are fragmented pieces of my family and our ancestry from India. India, from where these spices are abundant, where they flourish in meals, drinks, and find their way on to prayer rituals until the 18th century. The Portuguese, Dutch and British monopolized all of these beautiful spices from our home land. Clearing out every single ginger plant, clove tree, cinnamon stick and piece of nutmeg. The spice trade not only took our spices, but a part of our culture.
Let’s not forget about pumpkin. Squash were cultivated by indigenous people before europeans ripped their land from under their feet. Vanilla was taken from Mexican farmers and the list can go on.
I am tired of colour being taken and being sold white. I am angry that when every time someone orders a pumpkin spice latte, another piece of mine and my fellow POC’s heritage is taken away from us. Cultural appropriation is something many people put a blind eye to, but often times, thing are so well marketed to us, we cannot differentiate those blurry lines. We must continue to stand up for what has been taken from us and reclaim it in any way