Bon Appétit is facing internet backlash and hundreds of one-star reviews for its version of the traditional Haitian dish soup joumou

  • The internet is after Bon Appétit again for a recipe of soup joumou, a traditional Haitian dish, that many say is inaccurate.
  • The food magazine updated its recipe after hundreds of one-star reviews, along with critiques on Twitter and Instagram. The byline was also adjusted after Yewande Komolafe, who was listed as one of its authors, said she had nothing to do with the recipe.
  • The Condé Nast publication had a public reckoning this summer as former and current staffers of color alleged the publication failed to include diverse content, among other problems.
  • "We deeply regret offending people and misrepresenting this dish, which is an important part of global food history," a representative for Bon Appétit told Business Insider. "We are sorry for under-emphasizing that this dish is loosely inspired by soup joumou."
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

On Tuesday, Bon Appétit posted a recipe for soup joumou, an essential dish in Haitian cuisine. But the glossy food publication's version drew criticism from readers, who said it wasn't at all close to what the famous dish is supposed to be.

The Bon Appétit recipe includes candied nuts with maple syrup, coconut milk, chile-nutmeg oil, and other ingredients not typically found in the dish — and some not even native to Haiti.

The Condé Nast food brand saw a public reckoning this year over how it treats employees of color, and leadership has publicly spoken about a renewed focus of increasing diversity within its magazine and video content. But this attempt was slammed almost immediately.

In the day after the recipe's posting, nearly 400 readers left one-star reviews on the page, and many criticized it on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Following the backlash, Bon Appétit renamed the recipe, which now reads "Pumpkin Soup With Spiced Nuts." It also appended the following editor's note:

We've updated the name and byline of this dish, and changed the headnote to match the excerpted recipe, which is chef Marcus Samuelsson's take on Haitian soup joumou, from Samuelsson's cookbook 'The Rise.' We apologize for misrepresenting this recipe.

"We deeply regret offending people and misrepresenting this dish, which is an important part of global food history. We are sorry for under-emphasizing that this dish is loosely inspired by soup joumou," a representative for Bon Appétit told Business Insider.

"The soup recipe on Bon Appétit was initially adapted from my book, The Rise," Samuelsson told Business Insider in a statement. "The headnote has been updated to reflect how it is described in full in my book, where it is included as an homage to the Haitian Independence Soup, soup joumou. I apologize for how it was presented in the issue of Bon Appétit that I guest edited. This error is not at all in line with how we approached sharing or celebrating Black culinary traditions in The Rise or in Bon Appétit and I apologize to those we have offended."

'My grandmother … is rolling in her grave'

For Princess Mettelus, who was born in Haiti and now lives in Bradenton, Florida, the recipe felt like "a slap in the face."

"It's like, our culture isn't good enough for for what it is," she told Business Insider. "Yours didn't taste well, so we just completely changed it."

 

The take on joumou was especially insulting, Mettelus said, given the soup's history. Under French colonial rule, which lasted nearly 200 years, enslaved Africans in Haiti made pumpkin soup while working on forced labor camps. The French denied them the right to eat the soup, instead forcing them to eat what Mettelus described as a bread soup with leftover broth.

Once Haiti declared independence on January 1, 1804, soup joumou — similar to what the French demanded to eat — became the traditional dish to celebrate freedom in Haiti. 

"Negative 5 stars for disturbing my grandmother who is rolling in her grave and missing the mark and understanding how history, family and food go hand in hand," one commenter named Mike V. wrote. "Disrespectful to the Nth degree!"

The recipe's byline also drew controversy 

The soup joumou recipe was adapted from "The Rise: Black Cooks and the Soul of American Food," published in October by chef Marcus Samuelsson. Samuelsson, who was born in Ethiopia and grew up in Sweden, is also a brand advisor for Bon Appétit. 

The original recipe had two other names listed under the byline: recipe developer Yewande Komolafe and chef Tamie Cook. Cook and Komolafe developed recipes for Samuelsson's cookbook.

Both were removed this morning after Komolafe, the author of an upcoming cookbook of Nigerian recipes, said on Instagram that she had nothing to do with the recipe. Komolafe and Cook did not immediately respond to Business Insider's requests for comment.

A post shared by Yewande (@yewande_komolafe)

 

Bon Appétit has had a year of missteps

Former and current employees of Bon Appétit told Business Insider in June that leadership at the food brand refused their staffers' efforts to feature diverse recipes and cooks.

Ryan Walker-Hartshorn, who was previously the assistant to the editor-in-chief and then the only Black woman on staff, said she regularly hosted pitch meetings to include content from outside the white American lens. "They would still come with the same pitches about Martha's Vineyard and lobster rolls," Walker-Hartshorn told Business Insider at the time. 

"White food is considered the most accessible and 'simple,'" then-contributor Priya Krishna said in a June email interview with Business Insider. "Especially early on, whenever I pitched a home cooking recipe story featuring non-white food, I felt like I had to work twice as hard to prove that it deserved a place in the magazine."

Source: Read Full Article