Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has decided to drop the term ‘Kaffir lime leaves’ from his recipes; instead, they will now simply say ‘lime leaves’. According to a report in The Independent, he arrived at the decision after realising the word has a racial connotation.
The report states that the word has been used historically as a racial slur in South Africa, and as a result of this, there have been concerns about its usage. Oliver has decided to no longer be using the term in any of his recipe books or TV shows. In fact, his team is even believed to be in the process of editing his online content, so as to remove the word entirely.
What is kaffir lime?
Native to Southeast Asia, kaffir lime or makrut lime comes from the citrus hystrix plant. It is also known as Thai lime or Mauritius papeda.
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Why is it a racial slur?
According to the report, it is believed that in South Africa, ‘kaffir’ is a racial slur, which refers to Black Africans. It was used widely during the apartheid era, and is now referred to as the ‘K-word’.
Few supermarkets, like Waitrose and Tesco, have also decided to remove the word from their lime leaves packaging, the Independent report states, adding that Waitrose was the first supermarket that announced its decision to change and avoid causing offense.
Helena Dennis, Waitrose grocery trading manager, was quoted as saying: “This name change is a crucial step in recognising how important it is for us to listen to customers and educate ourselves when it comes to the language we use. While some of our customers may be unaware of the connotations of this particular word, it’s important to us that we avoid offending anyone who shops with us. It is changes like this that ensure we are moving forward.”