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covering the coverage of south asian food


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#1 mongo_jones

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 02:10 PM

today i inaugurated a new series of posts on the blog that will regularly survey writing about south asian food in mainstream american publications. i begin with some history of internet food culture and then move to some issues i've had with some current pieces by prominent figures (like tejal rao). the series is not intended to be a bunch of gotcha moments but as honest critique of what as i see as welcome improvements in the scene.

 

warning: the first piece is long.


Edited by mongo_jones, 27 August 2018 - 10:12 PM.

my annoying opinions: whisky, food and occasional cultural commentary

 

current restaurant review: house of curry (sri lankan in rosemount, mn)

 

current whisky review: glen ord 28

 

current recipe: white bean curry with green peppers

 

 

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#2 Orik

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 02:16 PM

Too many ases
sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#3 Sneakeater

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 05:14 PM

This is great stuff.


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#4 Orik

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 05:33 PM

Yes, I read almost all the words. 


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#5 mongo_jones

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Posted 27 August 2018 - 10:13 PM

Too many ases

 

one less as now. too late to do anything about the ass part.


my annoying opinions: whisky, food and occasional cultural commentary

 

current restaurant review: house of curry (sri lankan in rosemount, mn)

 

current whisky review: glen ord 28

 

current recipe: white bean curry with green peppers

 

 

facts are meaningless. you could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
~homer simpson


 


#6 Steve R.

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 02:05 PM

Once I got over the rejection of chicken tikka masala & chicken tandoori as the crux of the matter (& the lack of any mention of chicken korma), my only problem with this was the absence of pictures. Maybe some funny photos of critics with mustaches or party hats drawn on them.

I do look forward to any discussion that may arise about the existence (or lack thereof) of Indian-American cuisine. I was actually surprised when there was little said by reviewers of Suvir's "American Masala" dishes at Devi (he was trying out the recipes on anyone he knew prior to publishing his cookbook). Even if only to bash the non-"authentic" cooking (like the bright red dye dishes?), the way it's been done historically with Italian red sauce cooking or Chinese chow mein places, I would expect to see more reviewers talk about this issue.

Ases or not, I'll keep reading. Its much more interesting to me than whiskey.


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#7 Sneakeater

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 07:15 PM

Suvir's American Masala dishes are a different thing, though, right?  It's not an organic outgrowth of immigrants' experience of America (like Red Sauce and American Chinese), but rather a professional chef's self-conscious attempt to fuse American and Indian cooking.  (That's not at all meant pejoratively, BTW.)  It isn't an attempt to create a cuisine, but rather one chef's attempt to forge a personal style.  So I'd say it doesn't show what "Indian-American" cooking might be, if such a thing exists at all.  Am I missing something?  (Such as, rereading your post, are you not even positing Suvir's stuff as an example of Indian-American cuisine -- in which case, never mind.)


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#8 mongo_jones

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 07:53 PM

yeah, i don't think suvir's stuff is indian-american in the way i mean it in the piece--though there's no reason it couldn't be thought of as a type of indian-american cuisine. there's an outfit here in the twin cities called hot indian foods that might fit as well. they combine indian dishes/flavours with current american fast casual trends--bowls, tacos etc. not my cup of tea, really, but i'm not their market.

 

but i think it's safe to say that there is such a thing as american chinese and also american japanese. i don't think the same thing has happened yet for indian or korean or thai--in a couple of those cases what you have is more americanized restaurant food: creamy indian, sickly sweet thai.

 

it might also be the case that an organic american version of new-er immigrant cuisine is unlikely to develop from home kitchens anymore because ingredient availability now is so good in most parts of the u.s. the average indian cook doesn't need to hybridize because they can find what they need if they can cook or they can find reasonable frozen versions if they can't or are lazy. 


my annoying opinions: whisky, food and occasional cultural commentary

 

current restaurant review: house of curry (sri lankan in rosemount, mn)

 

current whisky review: glen ord 28

 

current recipe: white bean curry with green peppers

 

 

facts are meaningless. you could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
~homer simpson


 


#9 Blondie

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 08:11 PM

Yes, I read almost all the words. 

 

Me too. I thought about just skimming and giving him a perfunctory thumbs up, but I'm glad I actually read it :) Very interesting, Mr. Jones.


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#10 Steve R.

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 08:48 PM

Suvir's American Masala dishes are a different thing, though, right?  It's not an organic outgrowth of immigrants' experience of America (like Red Sauce and American Chinese), but rather a professional chef's self-conscious attempt to fuse American and Indian cooking.  (That's not at all meant pejoratively, BTW.)  It isn't an attempt to create a cuisine, but rather one chef's attempt to forge a personal style.  So I'd say it doesn't show what "Indian-American" cooking might be, if such a thing exists at all.  Am I missing something?  (Such as, rereading your post, are you not even positing Suvir's stuff as an example of Indian-American cuisine -- in which case, never mind.)


Yeah, I wasn’t. I was just expressing surprise at the lack of commentary on Suvir’s dishes.

I was more wondering about what you call an organic outgrowth of immigrant experience and I’m curious about the lack of commentary on these. For example, I certainly don’t believe that tandoori ovens are in use in most places I’ve eaten tandoori dishes but that alone doesn’t an Indian-American cuisine make. Although I can’t cite examples of chow mein or spaghetti & meatball equivalents on Indian restaurant menus, I similarly don’t take for granted that some of the offered dishes I’ve grown up eating would be found in India.

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#11 AaronS

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 11:18 PM

Im surprised that you dont think that american thai food is a thing, the sickly sweet stuff I grew up with seems very similar to the americanized chinese food I was eating at the time.

I feel the same way about the indian food I grew up with too, but maybe they were just copying something developed in england?

#12 mongo_jones

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Posted 28 August 2018 - 11:43 PM

well, i think american thai food is just an overly sweet version of a small fraction of thai food. similarly, american indian food is just an overly creamy/nut pastey version of north indian restaurant food. i don't know if that's enough to put it on par with american chinese and american japanese which have developed repertoires that have separated from their source (whatever you may think of them), in the same way (though not yet to the same extent) that italian american food has separated from italian food.


my annoying opinions: whisky, food and occasional cultural commentary

 

current restaurant review: house of curry (sri lankan in rosemount, mn)

 

current whisky review: glen ord 28

 

current recipe: white bean curry with green peppers

 

 

facts are meaningless. you could use facts to prove anything that's even remotely true!
~homer simpson


 


#13 Orik

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 12:07 AM

Well, every acceptable cuisine needs to have its brand chicken - butter chicken, lemongrass chicken, chicken teriyaki, basil chicken, and of course, general tso. 

 

Sounds about right on Chinese (and in a limited way Japanese) vs Indian, Thai, or Vietnamese. 


sandwiches that are large and filling and do not contain tuna or prawns

#14 AaronS

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 12:18 AM

I guess youre right about separation but american thai and indian food seem to have a pretty well developed repittoire thats consistent across the US.

#15 Steve R.

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Posted 29 August 2018 - 01:02 AM

Well, every acceptable cuisine needs to have its brand chicken - butter chicken, lemongrass chicken, chicken teriyaki, basil chicken, and of course, general tso. 

 

Every cloud has a silver lining.


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