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Stop, Thief!

Copycat Foodie cries of copying, imitation and more strongly, plagiarism, have been popping up faster than banh mi joints (or is it fried chicken? I can't keep up). I would understand if two people in a short time frame had written about a Ukranian vegan holiday meal at Veselka (surprisingly, the most e-mailed article in the New York Times last night, currently it is at number six). It's hyper-specific and not widely known.

But Seattle being a teriyaki town is not that much different than the ten million articles devoted to Philly cheesesteaks or on a smaller scale green chile burgers in New Mexico or lobster rolls in Maine. Not exactly secrets.

Is John T. Edge really copying a 2007 story by Jonathan Kauffman? You just don't hear about Seattle teriyaki much because no one gives a rat's ass about the Emerald City, a nickname not quite up there with the Windy City or The Big Apple. (As a native Portlander, the truth is even harsher; the average non-hip New Yorker has no idea where Oregon even is). Though, I imagine that when your under-the-radar regional specialty is acknowledged you feel possessive of it.

Same too, with General Tso’s chicken, it seems. I knew Francis Lam's warm, even-handed style would get him into trouble eventually (I was always surprised by the civility of commenters). Yes, Fuchsia Dunlop is a recognized Western expert on Chinese food (and of course I made her General Tso’s recipe from Revolutionary Chinese Cookbook ) but it's not as if she owns all historical inquiry into Americanized Chinese food, which I guess is also Jennifer 8. Lee territory. Digging into a topic that's been previously written about does not make one a plagiarizer.

No one rips on Saveur's monthly "Classic," which briefly explains the origin of a dish then gives a recipe. But then, their website is so discombobulated that these columns are floating freely as recipes and not findable enough to comment. Maybe I should go stir up some shit over pavlova or chouchroute garnie. I’m quite certain someone somewhere has written about them before.

Copy Cat photo from Handheld Games Museum

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  1. queenslama #

    I’m not sure I would say Francis Lam got himself into any trouble. One cranky commenter on the LTH forum really has it in for him, but that’s it. Even Fuschia Dunlop appreciated his article on her blog.

    January 8, 2010
  2. queenslama: Sure, I might be exaggerating a bit. I’m just fascinated by online commenters and what it takes to rile them up (not a whole lot).

    January 9, 2010

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