Authenticity Is Overrated
Some years ago I would have said that authenticity in reproducing national or regional cuisines was very important. Now I think it’s overrated. This is akin to other changes in my life over the last decade or so that have, inevitably, given me more perspective and, dare I say, mellowed me a bit.
Take sushi, for example, if local sushi restaurants only served “authentic” Japanese sushi, they wouldn’t be serving a lot of what people buy. The same is true for Chinese restaurants and, I suspect, for the majority of restaurants serving the food of India or Pakistan, too.
I’ve come around on the subject, such that I can enjoy a well-made California roll as much as the next fellow, and a General Tso’s chicken perhaps even more. I don’t mind that the Indian restaurants I frequent don’t use many of the ingredients I can find at the market on Barron Street off Vets that stocks such things. I don’t mind largely because the food I do find at these places is very good and if you ask you’ll often find that there are more … traditional dishes available.
Sometimes these are available as specials on a board near the entrance, as was the case the last time I visited 9 Roses and had a hankering for goat curry. Sometimes there’s a special menu, which is true at China Rose and a few other Chinese restaurants around town. Sometimes you just have to ask.
But if you aren’t interested in that sort of thing, then I say just enjoy what’s on offer and what’s familiar. Eating is about sustenance but for some of us it’s also about pleasure – hopefully with those two things in balance. But leaving aside questions of over-indulgence or unhealthy diet, why should it bother anyone if I enjoy a plate of chicken tikka masala, or pizza with pineapple and ham, or jalapeno poppers?
Here are the relevant questions: are you eating a generally healthy diet? Do you enjoy what you eat? If your answer to both questions is “yes,” then you win, and to hell with anyone who disagrees.
Unless you put ketchup on hot dogs like some sort of filthy, slavering animal-human hybrid, bereft of all reason and taste. In that case you’re beyond my help, but I will pray for you.