"I don’t get it, as a culinary principle."
Padma Lakshmi has led the criticism against US columnist Gene Weingarten after he supposedly insulted Indian food in his piece for the Washington Post.
The article, titled ‘You can’t make me eat these foods‘, focused on several foods he refuses to eat and why.
On Indian food, Weingarten said:
“The Indian subcontinent has vastly enriched the world, giving us chess, buttons, the mathematical concept of zero, shampoo, modern-day nonviolent political resistance, Chutes and Ladders, the Fibonacci sequence, rock candy, cataract surgery, cashmere, USB ports… and the only ethnic cuisine in the world insanely based entirely on one spice.
“If you like Indian curries, yay, you like Indian food!
“If you think Indian curries taste like something that could knock a vulture off a meat wagon, you do not like Indian food.
“I don’t get it, as a culinary principle.
“It is as though the French passed a law requiring every dish to be slathered in smashed, pureed snails. (I’d personally have no problem with that, but you might, and I would sympathise.)”
Despite being a known humour columnist, Weingarten was criticised by netizens for oversimplifying a diverse cuisine like Indian.
Leading the backlash was Padma Lakshmi who said Weingarten needed “an education on spices, flavour and taste”.
She then offered him up her book The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs before asking why the Washington Post was endorsing a “coloniser hot take” that characterised all Indian food as being based on a single spice.
Is this really the type of colonizer 'hot take' the @washingtonpost wants to publish in 2021- sardonically characterizing curry as "one spice" and that all of India's cuisine is based on it? pic.twitter.com/suneMRD8vs
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) August 23, 2021
Lakshmi’s tweet resulted in many reactions and others took to Twitter to slam Weingarten for his column.
Author Shireen Ahmed said:
“I pride myself on my Pakistani cooking. I also love South Indian, and fusion dishes.
“That you got paid to write this tripe, and boldly spew your racism is deplorable.”
“May your rice be clumpy, roti dry, your chillies unforgivable, your chai cold, and your papadams soft.”
Mindy Kaling was also not happy with the US columnist’s piece.
You don’t like a cuisine? Fine. But it’s so weird to feel defiantly proud of not liking a cuisine. You can quietly not like something too
— Mindy Kaling (@mindykaling) August 23, 2021
Another netizen posted: “Your palate isn’t sophisticated, it’s racist and bland.”
As more people lambasted the writer, Gene Weingarten decided to go to an Indian restaurant.
Despite trying the food, he continued to maintain his stance.
This prompted Padma Lakshmi to bluntly reply:
“On behalf of 1.3 billion people kindly f**k off.”
The backlash eventually resulted in Washington Post updating the column and issuing a statement:
“A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Indian cuisine is based on one spice, curry and that Indian food is made up only of curries, types of stew.
“In fact, India’s vastly diverse cuisines use many spice blends and include many other types of dishes.
“The article has been corrected.”
Weingarten also issued an apology. He tweeted:
“From start to finish plus the illo, the column was about what a whining infantile ignorant d***head I am.
“I should have named a single Indian dish, not the whole cuisine and I do see how that broad-brush was insulting. Apologies. (Also, yes, curries are spice blends, not spices.)”
Despite the apology, netizens remained unimpressed.