Ep 267 – Brian “Pachacuti” Otoya: The Etymology of Yum

Brian Otoya grew up in D.C. and knows firsthand just how delicious culture can be. His mom makes amazing Peruvian food. Perhaps then, it’s no surprise that Brian came up with the idea for The Etymology of Yum. Just as words have origins (or etymologies) so do dishes. The Etymology of Yum is a feature Brian will be heading up at Mixed Mental Arts that reveals the same lesson over and over again: deliciousness comes from cultures having #ideasex.

Dishes like the taco, the pizza, BBQ ribs, pad thai, sushi, banh mi, peri peri chicken, lomo saltado and more aren’t the result of a single culture. They’re what happens when cultures trade and combine ingredients, cooking techniques and much, much more. That’s why anyone (like Lena Dunham) who wants to end cultural appropriation has completely missed the point of human progress. Human progress is about taking ideas from other cultures to make your own culture more awesome. The real issue with cultural appropriation is power. Is the transfer of information from one culture to another done between people with more or less equal power and done with consent or is it coercive? The problem isn’t #ideasex. It’s #idearape.┬áThe issue isn’t the exchange of cultural tools. It’s the abuse of power.

And power is something that growing up in D.C. is on Brian Otoya’s mind. Brian has a dream. That dream is to Make Government Great Again. With all the technologies that have appeared in the last few decades, the opportunity to make government better serve the people is here. It will take a mass of the people acting together and demanding those updates. If you also want a better, more efficient and more streamlined government, then you should talk to Brian Otoya. You will find lots and lots of other people do too. The more of us gang up on the problem instead of each other the faster we fix the system.


Right after being born in Saudi Arabia, I was taken to the Callen house. Since then, Bryan and I have travelled the world with our Citibank fathers and somehow ended up in LA together. There we'd run into each other at family gatherings and do something that no one else in LA seemed to be doing: we talked about books. Since Bryan was kind of a big deal, Hunter and Bryan hatched a scheme to use his podcast to get on their favorite authors and professors. Out of that evolved Mixed Mental Arts and this tribe. For me, the marriage of entertainment and education is a return to how things used to be before our culture split story into two separate things. It's exciting to be able to build on the work Katie O'Brien and I did for The Straight-A Conspiracy and expand it out to every area of life. While I play a series of roles in the Mixed Mental Arts community (including Shitty Dutch Uncle and Bryan's #1 fan) my favorite role is as Toto who pulls back the curtain and let's the world see that there are no wizards...only men and women who try and puff themselves up to seem important.

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