Giada De Laurentiis’ Filipino chicken adobo was a cultural appropriation nightmare


Anyone who grew up watching the Food Network probably remembers the landmark, Giada De Laurentiis. She caused a sensation on the Popular Cooking Channel with her show, Everyday italian, from 2003 to 2008. De Laurentiis’ easy-to-love personality made it easier for viewers to learn Italian cooking at home. Being so well known is often accompanied by scandal and De Laurentiis is no stranger to it. Even some of his recipes raise eyebrows.

Giada De Laurentiis makes homemade Italian cooking easy and fun

Giada De Laurentiis cooks at the New York City Wine & Food Festival | Slaven Vlasic / Getty Images for NYCWFF

De Laurentiis never intended to become a celebrity chef even though she was raised around food. Now 51 years old, she grew up working in her grandfather’s food market and even studied the profession of chef at the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris.

When a Food Network producer spotted her in Gastronomy and Wine Magazine, his life took on a new trajectory. The producer thought his warm personality would be a big hit with Food Network viewers, and he wasn’t wrong. De Laurentiis’ new show, Everyday italian, became an instant hit in 2003. She even won an Emmy Award.

De Laurentiis did not stop there. She went on to publish nine cookbooks, open multiple restaurants, and even co-host with Bobby Flay. The girl who never intended to be famous built up a net worth of $ 30 million – and did it all while raising her daughter.

De Laurentiis made chicken adobo on ‘Giada at Home’

The recipe in question is De Lauretiis Chicken Adobo, which she cooked on her show, Giada at home. The Michelin-starred chef shared this recipe specifically during the episode titled Big game. De Laurentiis cooked various playful menu items with plans to serve them to guests coming to a major sporting event.

One of the recipes on that day’s menu was Filipino Chicken Adobo. The ingredients include:

  • white wine vinegar
  • Soya sauce
  • Light brown sugar
  • Garlic
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Dried bay leaves
  • Chicken drumsticks
  • Low sodium chicken broth
  • Arrowroot
  • Lime juice
  • Black pepper
  • Fresh parsley or cilantro
  • Lime wedges, for garnish

This delicious dish comes from the Philippines. Considered an “all day simmer” recipe, it creates incredible chicken broth and sauce. The softness of adobo chicken makes it perfect with a side dish of white rice, as is the tradition for this recipe.

Problems with Giada De Lauretiis’ chicken adobo

While the Chicken Adobo is crowd pleaser and seemingly perfect for a gathering of friends, there were a few issues with the way De Laurentiis presents the dish. Mashable reflects the claims of cultural appropriation of this recipe.

In recent years, more and more white culinary figures have been accused of cultural appropriation because of the recipes they develop. De Laurentiis did not make the headlines, but she did not escape accusations either.

It all started when a friend alerted a food blogger, Saralynn Pablo, which De Laurentiis did Chicken Adobo on his show. Pablo expected the lineup to be mostly finger foods for a fun night watching a big game. She was amazed to see a tastier dish like Chicken Adobo on the lineup as it’s almost impossible to eat with your hands. It didn’t end there though.

Pablo points out that not only De Laurentiis used incorrect ingredients; nor did she serve the chicken adobo with rice as traditionally does. It was also mentioned that there was no cultural context for the dish given in the episode. She says, “Give the appropriate historical and contemporary context. Do not exoticism, fetishize. Or just don’t go, there are all of them.

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