Netflix’s ‘Great British Baking Show’ said the quiet part out loud

One of the most comforting TV series in the world became one of the most offensive series on Friday. Netflix’s “The Great British Baking Show” has released its latest episode, Mexican Week, which is filled with many problematic stereotypes, causing a backlash on social media.

But the cherry on top comes during the opening scene, where comedian Noel Fielding (“IT Crowd”, “The Mighty Boosh”) and Matt Lucas (“Doctor Who”) don the colorful tall garlands and round sombrero in the middle of a well-manicured green lawn outside the iconic white tent. for the exhibition. With the criticism spread online like wildfire, I decided to watch the full episode. When the matter was revealed, I blinked in bewilderment. How was this made?

“I’m really excited about ‘Mexican Week,'” Fielding said, while dressed in a culturally appropriate outfit.

β€œWhat or what? No Mexican jokes at all?” Lucas asked his co-host. “What, not even Juan?”

“Not even Joan,” Fielding replied with a smile.

“Welcome to the Great British Bread Fair!”

Oh boy.

If you haven’t watched the 12-year-old British baking contest that has captured the heart of America for more than a decade, the season will be judged by celebrity blue-eyed baker Paul Hollywood and Pro Leith, a South African restaurateur. It was also co-hosted by comedians Fielding and Lucas, El Pozzo in the Cheap Costumes I mentioned earlier.

Each episode tasks amateur bakers with three challenges: signature, technical and show baking. In the case of “Mexican Week,” contestants bake a pan of dulce (sweet bread) for a signature test.

At local panadeas (bakeries), pan dulce comes in endless varieties, from a coconut-crusted sponge cake with raspberry swirls to the more famous concha, which my grandmother always enjoyed with coffee.

Many bakers have chosen to try their hand at conchas, a round cake with a sugary crackling top that has been taped. Once the concha comes out of the oven, the sweet coating resembles the tops of seashells. This is what “concha” means: shell.

During the challenge, it was clear that the majority of bakers couldn’t be bothered to put in so much effort into pronouncing simple words like “concha” or “besos,” which means kisses.

During the artistic process, bakers tried to make tacos with “spicy” beans, pico de gallo, and guacamole. In this taco challenge, one of the women pronounced the word “Guacamooolee” with several vowels that have now turned into her meme.

Show producers opting for tech tacos at a bread show really shows a lack of research into Mexican food and culture. Instead of opting for a bread baking challenge where contestants tried recipes for crunchy rolls like pollillo, or even Beirut salad, which is our version of sourdough bread, the show opted for tacos. for bakers.

Look at the steak tacos

Watch steak tacos for a ‘tech street food’ challenge during ‘Mexican Week’ at the Great British Baking Show.

Image via Netflix

What followed was a barrage of runners peeling avocados as if they were skinning potatoes and uttering an L in words like tortillas and pico de gallo, not to mention faint cracks in “Mexican accents.” The tacos were sad, del taco-like balls served with canned black beans that were blindly seasoned with plenty of cumin and ancho chile powder.

With all this said, I wondered why “The Great British Baking Show” didn’t bother casting “El Jarabe Tapatio” or “The Mexican Hat Dance” as good lead music.

Finally, our clueless contestants competed for a tresses leches cake for their ultimate challenge. Now, I absolutely love the tresses leches cake. Once you find a live panaderia that doesn’t over-soak their sponge, but instead knows the perfect amount of a three-milk mixture to add to each layer – this is your bakery’s favorite for life.

Some contestants made tresses leach cakes in the shape of an Aztec pyramid, some made frosted white wedding cakes with floral designs, and many dunked their layers until they were dipped in a damp vat. Meanwhile, the show’s comedic hosts couldn’t help themselves making jokes about tequila and whether or not Mexico was a “real place,” which came as dismissive of an entire country full of rich cultural heritage.

In the end, the entire “Mexican Week” episode was a throwback. a point. It was also a missed opportunity, covered in offensive clothing.

However, I couldn’t look away. Although this was disappointing on many levels, it’s not really surprising. Mexican culture is often a punching bag for cheap laughs. It’s also not new to Norte 54 owner and baker Raquel Goldman, known for her delicious modern twist on a traditional dulce pan, which she often sells in the Ferry Building.

“I don’t understand why they had tacos in that episode, because there are so many other options. There’s conchas, but there’s also salty bread, like bolillo and TV,” Goldman said. My culture by pan dulce, there are countless breads from all the different regions of the country and I will never eat them all. They did not do their due diligence. This is not a difficult thing to do.”

it’s not. Sure enough, there would have been more research, reflection and any semblance of effort devoted to putting together a solid episode of “Mexican Week”. It’s best to be at the start of the show, said Leith, the co-host, which gave a glimmer of hope that they would at least try to get past the sombreros and serrapies:

“Mexico is full of vibrancy, color, great food, and great flavors, and that’s what we’re expecting this week from bakers,” she said.

Mexico is all of these things and more. I just hope this came through the challenges and into the overall treatment of the episode. “The Great British Baking Show” put more effort into the offensive costumes of its hosts and the laziest jokes imaginable littered throughout the episode, rather than stop to consider whether or not the episode’s portrayal of Mexican culture was racist.

contestants on

The contestants of “The Great British Baking Show” were challenged to make a four-tiered Tres Lychee cake. The mustache was optional.

Image via Netflix

As someone who is proud of their Mexican-American culture, and especially the delicious and intense dishes I grew up eating, there is plenty of Mexican food outside of tacos and paan dulce. If we’re down the culinary route: How about a technical challenge over the plethora of ingredients that go into making a mole from scratch? Or, as Goldman suggested, take the initiative to research and explore a variety of baked goods that represent points of pride from region to region.

Food is the best way to learn about other cultures, not childish laughter at the sounds of common words like “guacamole” or “pico de gallo.”

β€œIt’s a British bakery show. A lot of the challenges they face are centered around other European pastries,” Goldman said. β€œWhy not take advantage of the link of European influence in Mexico, and then how did you go about it afterwards and make it his own?”

“The Great British Baking Show” had a chance and, instead, truly revealed to millions of global viewers what they think of Mexican culture. The show said the quiet part out loud, including the pronunciation of “tortilla” with several harsh pronunciations.

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