The internet has taken Scandi superstore IKEA to task this week, on account of their controversial interpretation of classic Carribbean cooking. The Swedish-based retailer came under serious fire after their new jerk chicken with rice and peas dish debuted on British menus, because, in the eyes of many critics, they used completely the wrong ingredients.
The main issue with the new dish appears to be the interpretation of the “rice and peas” part of the meal. Traditionally, the dish is prepared with either kidney beans or pigeon peas, which are locally referred to as “peas”, and a variety of added extras such as Scotch bonnet chillies, spring onions and coconut milk. The Ikea interpretation, however, ditched the pigeon peas and instead opted for plain white rice and garden peas. Needless to say, this major change did not go down well.
Within a few days of the dish making its bow, social media had had enough. Critics soon flooded Twitter, calling for the jerk chicken to be recalled and the “rice and peas” to be immediately recognised as wrong on every level. “This is IKEA’s jerk chicken and rice and peas and no I’m not eating it,” said one Twitterer. “The chicken don’t look bad. But the literal rice and peas is killing my soul,” said another. “Chicken looks halfway decent here, but that rice looks like it just got taken off life support. No bueno,” added a third.
Amid the backlash, Ikea eventually admitted their culpability. In a statement issued to Fox News, the company wrote:
"IKEA is a Swedish home furnishing company with a much-loved food offer. We take inspiration from many countries around the world and have always worked to combine different flavors and ingredients to offer delicious, healthy and affordable dishes. We’re aware that our new jerk chicken, served with rice and peas has created some conversation and in some cases offence.”
This sentiment was echoed by IKEA UK and Ireland’s Country Food Manager Lorena Lourido, who told Metro:
“Our intention was to create a dish for many people to enjoy but we appreciate that we may have got it wrong. We apologise and we are now re-looking at the dish.”
What this means for the future of the company’s jerk chicken remains to be seen.