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People share questionable food choices and opinions on the internet pretty much daily. Whether it’s a piece of steak eaten straight out of a sandwich bag, or baking the most horrendous SpaghettiOs pie made directly on a kitchen countertop in what appears to be a CB2 showroom, there’s always something horrifying (or enticing depending on your taste) out there. These abominations to the culinary arts are what keeps the food discourse loud and chugging, and this week another fighter entered the ring to serve up another gastronomical experiment to ponder.
Saweetie’s eating habits have been compared to a lot of things: a possum, a starving rat on the subway, and a raccoon. That last one resonated so much with the “Best Friend” and “My Type” rapper that she changed her profile pic to Meeko, the racoon character from Disney’s Pocahontas as he’s stuffing his mouth. It all stemmed from a Story she posted this week in which she indulges in a plate full of spaghetti upon which she casually drizzles a never ending fat white line of ranch dressing. The internet collectively blew its gasket. While some pointed out how a fat person would be treated much more harshly if they posted a video eating a big plate of ranchghetti, others simply let out a cry for Saweetie’s intestines. They shouldn’t be too concerned, though; the rapper told Page Six in January she takes ginger shots and vitamins every morning, and knows “healthy bowel movements are really important. You got to get that thing flowing.”
It’s far from Saweetie’s first foray into culinary experimentation. Last year she went on Instagram Live and ate oysters topped with lemon juice, hot sauce, and barbecue sauce, which she said were “so bomb.” She also did a hilarious ASMR mukbang in 2020 where she eats a fuckton of seafood, smacking her lips and slurping in delight throughout. The food wasn’t in any way strange, but just incredible in sheer amount. Wish I could be her in that moment, crushing crab legs like they contained the vaccine. The baby hair princess loves her food, and considers herself a “foodie” through and through. In her 2018 single “Icy Girl,” she waxes on about her love of seafood, rapping “Cash money mama that be dining in Bahamas/ Eating fettuccine pasta with the scallops and the lobster.”
However, after the ranchghetti scandal, Saweetie came back not just with a #NewProfilePic, but with a fair and very real point. She tweeted: “wtf was yall eating growin up??? Y’all must’ve had a boring ass childhood.” In Saweetie’s food choices, and the delight she radiates as she’s eating, I see the love language of Black, Latinx, and Asian people.
The Bay Area-bred rapper, whose real name is Diamonté Harper, was raised by a Black father and a Filipino-Chinese mother. In 2020, she spoke to Thrillist about her deep love for Filipino and other Asian cuisine, inspired by her mom who encouraged her to eat heartily and happily, and had her eating raw foods from an early age. She recalled her childhood with her titos and titas doing karaoke, eating, and playing games. “Filipino food makes me happy,” the rapper told Thrillist. “If it’s good, I’ll just savor in the moment. And if it’s really good, I start dancing. I just can’t help myself.”
Growing up in San Diego and Tijuana, I recognize Saweetie’s iron stomach and her eclectic taste buds. My middle school and high school was predominantly Mexican and Filipino, two peoples who share a colonizer and a love for mouthwatering, savory foods and spice. I spent hours in my Filipino friends and boyfriend’s house eating adobo and singing Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One” karaoke in the living room. They came over to mine and devoured carne asada and menudo; and I spent hours at their parties stuffing myself with pancit and lumpia. We bonded over the foods our white friends thought were weird or gross, and my family laughed when my high school boyfriend called Tapatío “ta-pay-shee-oh” while his family cackled after daring me to eat balut.
In seeing Saweetie gleefully drench her spaghetti in ranch, I was reminded of my own sisters dropping gobs of Thousand Island dressing on their Little Caesars $5 Hot-N-Ready pepperoni pizzas; of my years drenching Flaming Hot Cheetos in nacho cheese; of the Tostilocos (Tostitos chips covered in chamoy, hot sauce, lime juice, Japanese peanuts, cucumber, jicama, pickled pork rinds, spicy tamarind candy, and Clamato—a Mexican street snack delicacy) I’ve shoveled into my mouth until my stomach couldn’t take any more. One of the best things I’ve had in my life is a hollowed out cucumber filled Mexican tamarind candy, hot sauce, chamoy, Tajín, and other tasty treats—an off-shoot of Tostilocos.
Not too long ago, a close friend of mine from Chicago was extolling the delicacy that is a Maruchan ramen cup filled with hot sauce, lime juice, a slice of American cheese, and an egg. My nieces told me that at their high school, kids kept bottles of chamoy, hot sauce, and lime juice in their backpacks and charged their classmates $1 to dress their bags of chips in the tangy sauces. My mom has constantly said I’m going to get “gastritis” because of the garbage I eat, but if this is garbage, baby, I’m diving into that dumpster. To paraphrase The Notebook, if Saweetie’s a raccoon, I’m a raccoon.
Saweetie is simply a hood snack gourmand. Many of the Black, Latinx, and Asian people I know who, like me, grew up in areas that have more liquor stores than organic markets know this life. And even those who grew up in the nicer part of town got into it, too. That’s just how many of us eat, and she’s absolutely right: our childhoods and adulthood are all the better for it. But if you grew up eating nothing but vegetables and well-balanced meals, that’s fine too. Good for you! You might be shocked to learn that we raccoons also ate well-balanced meals, vegetables, and dishes filled with nutritional value as well as flavor. You can do it all, folks!
I’m not mad at my hot sauce covered Doritos, orange slices sprinkled with Tajín, and Tapatío brand ramen bowls filled with birria. The flavors are like a symphony, and yeah, maybe some of the members of the orchestra are my intestines begging for mercy, but that’s alright. My guts might be suffering, but there’s ecstasy to that agony. You eat, Saweetie. I raise a barbecue sauced oyster to you!
Alex Zaragoza is a senior staff writer at VICE.