Today is Cultural Appreciation Day here at Legal Insurrection. While some yammer on about ‘cultural appropriation’ (if such a thing does exist, it’s certainly not bad), we’ve decided to share how we celebrate various cultures.

A few writers and readers have shared your stories. Leslie is all over Culture Appreciation Day and I refer you to her other posts here and here.

Readers:

From Oregon Mike:

Folks,

You say, “the best way to enjoy and respect a culture is … to partake of it.”

Well, here I am (the guy in the blue shirt), a retired lawyer, partaking of American Cowboy Culture by vaccinating a calf during a branding operation, all while being observed by a real buckaroo who somehow managed not to take offense. I am in distinct cultural attire: western shirt, Wrangler jeans, cowboy boots. And, yes, cowboys wear baseball caps. No, I did not take actual part in the gender reassignment surgery performed on the bull calves.

From Fausta Wertz:

Enclosed is a photo of my brother and I in Puerto Rico some 50 years ago, appreciating the Wild West culture, Even at our young age, we were appreciative!

Best,

Fausta Wertz from faustasblog.com

From Miss S.:

I’m a teacher at a Christian middle school in Silicon Valley. For the past month, my students have been reading and writing about international folklore. Naturally, with teenagers, the best way to celebrate the unit is with a banquet, showcasing food from every country they have been studying. I can’t include pictures for student privacy reasons, but thought I’d share part of the menu with along with the countries whose cultures we cheerfully appropriated and appreciated:

* Australia – lamingtons (cake rolled in chocolate and coconut)
* Arabian peninsula – apples stuffed with honey and baklava
* Caribbean – Caribbean-style lemonade (limes, not lemons)
* China – lemon aiyu jelly drink
* Egypt – Basila wa roz (beans and rice)
* Finland – meatballs with cream sauce
* France – crème brûlée
* Ireland – soda bread
* Japan – sushi
* Korea – bulgogi (grilled beef)
* Mexico – horchata (cinnamon-rice drink)
* Poland – szarlotka (apple pastry)
* Russia – shashliks (kababs)
* Vietnam – sticky rice with chicken

There was more, but that’s all I could manage to sample. There are days I just love my job.

-Miss S.

From Milhouse:

This is what I’m having tonight and tomorrow for my Shabbos meals:

Dirty rice, appropriated (very very approximately) from Louisiana

Spiced cashews and cumin rice, appropriated from India

Matbucha, appropriated from Morocco

Potato salad, not sure where it’s appropriated from, but I’m pretty sure it’s not Jewish.

Gazpacho appropriated from Spain (sorry, no chicken soup this week)

Gefilte fish, OK, at least one thing has to be authentic 🙂

Writers:

Neo:

All hail the tree peony, as I did a few days ago in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. It’s that time of year, and the Brooklyn garden has a huge display of these gorgeous plants, which feature enormous blossoms that look like velvet or crepe paper or silk.

Hmmm—velvet or crepe paper or silk, all of which seem to have originated in China. As does the tree peony.

The tree peony was originally a Chinese plant, cultivated there for beauty and medicinal purposes for about the last 1500 years. In the eighth century peonies traveled to Japan and became popular, then to England in 1787 and next the rest of Europe, arriving in the US in 1820. If this isn’t cultural appreciation, I don’t know what is.

The ones at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden are not just lush and plentiful, but they also have a special history. They were sent from the Japanese town of Yatsuka-Cho in order “to bring peace of mind to people in the United States” after the events of September 11, 2001. The first shipment ran into a longshoreman’s strike, and languished in containers on the docks at Long Beach, California for 6 weeks with predictable results: their demise. The next shipment made it, and those are the peonies growing in Brooklyn today.

Moi:

I’ve lived on a couple different continents and have traveled to many more. When I was young, my family lived in Indonesia. During a school break, we spent a week in Bali where we visited Monkey Forest.

10-year-old (?) me in batik with Bali braids (as they were called) feeding monkeys:

Taken in either west Texas or New Mexico. Approximately 2-year-old me in front of a very African backdrop, holding (more like strangling) what looks to be a cheetah cub:

When you live in France you get to wear pink berets without judgement:

A big thanks to everyone who shared. If you’d still like to do so, email me here and I’ll add your stories/pictures/etc.