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Great British Baking Show Mexican Week Controversy Explained

Sombreros, serapes, and maracas, terrible pronunciations, jokes about Mexican stand-offs, and really strange-looking tacos — did “The Great British Baking Show’s” “Mexican Week” episode leave any stereotype unturned? Following a similar disaster with Season 11’s “Japanese Week,” the internationally acclaimed competition series — which is available on Netflix in the United States — appears to have decided not to learn from its mistakes and jumped headfirst into Mexican cuisine. And, given that the competition is primarily about who can make the best-baked goods, many observers wondered why they were attempting tacos in the first place.

Even before the episode aired on Oct. 7, the promos featuring sombrero-wearing hosts Noel Fielding and Matt Lucas drew criticism from social media commenters — mostly from the United States, where finding a good taco is not as difficult as it is in the United Kingdom — who were quick to weigh in on the show’s utter failure to understand more than the most obvious aspects of Mexican food and culture. Even the English-language plural of the word cactus eluded one of the contestants, let alone the woman whose guacamole sounded more like “glakeemolo.”

Aside from the pronunciation of gaffes, many viewers found the episode to be openly offensive and racist.

 “Nobody gave a fuck about Mexican culture, putting that show together. The poncho and the sombrero, talking about a Mexican standoff — it was a racist show,” said Bill Esparza, author of the book “L.A. Mexicano.”

“The real problem here is the lack of respect for the people. They have no business doing cultural weeks of any kind,” Esparza continued.

After the Japanese Week outcry, “the fact they would get some criticism and do it again — it seems like they’re ok about it,” said Esparza.

“It’s not hard to learn to pronounce words correctly, even for a living muppet of a host,” wrote José Ralat, the Taco Editor of Texas Monthly magazine.

“Tacos, new one on me,” says one contestant, as they are given the assignment for the technical challenge of making tortillas from canned “yellow field corn” and adding steak, spicy refried beans, guacamole, and pico de gallo to make some sort of gloppy pile of taco topped with rare meat. The difference between tacos and “torteellas” perplexes one chef while the other predictably worries, “I just hope my chili is not too hot!”

“The food was beyond absurd, because the people who were directing them to make it didn’t know what they were doing,” said Esparza, “The episode goes beyond the awful food. It almost seems like it’s offensive on purpose.”

Austin, Texas-based journalist Kate Sánchez attempted to put the uproar in context, noting “Don’t get me wrong it’s definitely racist but also DACA was deemed illegal and my community is being actively harmed by forces, not on my TV so glocklymolo and ominous maraca shaking is at least the stuff I can laugh at.” However, she did admit that peeling an avocado like a potato constituted “an act of physical violence against my people.”

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