As the UK Daily Mail suggests, a burrito food cart in Portland, Oregon using authentic Mexican recipes seemed like a good idea at the time. But two women who parlayed what they learned during a recent trip to Puerto Nuevo, Mexico about tortilla making ran into accusations of “cultural appropriation” by the politically correct. The hate generated by a food blog in the Portland Mercury became so intense that the women, Kali Wilgus and Liz 'LC' Connelly, were obliged to close down their business, likely for their own safety.

Studying authentic Mexican tortillas

During a trip last December in Puerto Nuevo, Kali Wilgus and Liz 'LC' Connelly enjoyed $5 lobster meals on the beach wrapped in tortillas that they found to be of a much better quality that they could find back in their Portland home. Intrigued, they queried the local “tortilla ladies” about the recipes and techniques they used. While the locals were somewhat reticent about their secrets, with the information they did have the two women were able to use a little reverse engineering to recreate the kinds of tortillas that they experienced in Mexico.

Kooks Burritos food cart is born

Wilgus and Connelly decided to parley what the learned into a new business, a food cart they called Kooks Burritos.

The eatery, which would show up at various locations in Portland, was an instant success. The popularity of Kooks led to a profile in the Willamette Week in which they related the story about how the came upon how to make authentic Mexican tortillas. Then, the trouble started.

Cultural Appropriation firestorm erupts on social media

A food blog in the Portland Mercury accused Wilgus and Connelly of “cultural appropriation” for discovering how tortillas are made in a Mexican resort town and bringing the secret to the American Northwest, over 1100 miles away. “Cultural appropriation,” for those who are unfamiliar with the rhetoric of the social justice movement, happens when someone raised in one culture adopts something from another culture, in this case, food.

In effect, Wilgus and Connelly were being accused of making tortillas while white. The concept is based on a misunderstanding about how cultures work and interact, trading art, music, and culinary techniques, a process that has occurred since the beginning of civilization and has aided in its growth.

The death of a business

The online lynch mob that descended on the two women set social media on fire. The reason may stem from a decidedly politically correct culture that seems to dominate Portland. In any case, Wilgus and Connelly have felt obliged to close down their business, deleting their Internet presence. While a number of people have subsequently come to the defense of the women, the fact of the matter is that an atmosphere of hate and intolerance in Portland has destroyed a popular business.