Monday, May 6, 2013

The Hypocrisy of Indian Food-Loving

'Anybody know of a good Italian place near Brigade, preferably pizza?' I'm not sure this guy even knew what he wanted. Pizza is a broad term that in this country usually has nothing to do with Italian cuisine. And I won't complain; have you ever tried the local ketchup version? Anyway, I didn't have a suggestion for him. Looking for something specific in India in terms of dining out, unless you're not broke, is literally rocket science. I mean, have you been to the food courts in our malls? You think for a second that you've finally found a cheap quesadilla stall, when boom! Out pops a paneer tikka-naan combo. You know, for the faint-hearted. You could even have fries with that. The point is, our restaurants refuse to commit to a specialty. In fact we will go far enough to Indianize the few dishes we do attempt. Ketchup pizzas ain't got nothing on tandoori sauce in a burger drowning in God knows what they put in that white thing they call mayo. Or tartar or ranch.
And that's perfectly okay. Unless you try to make it work the other way around. Take a deprived-of-Calcutta-rolls Bengali to the Kaati Zone here and watch with diabolical glee as he spits out his first bite while he yells 'Jogonno!' Observe the aunty at a kitty party recounting the horrors of her last night's dinner invitation nightmare at a south Indian home as she swears she tasted tamarind in the dal makhani. All this while they enjoy a bowl of chips and, oh wait, that's not salsa, is it?
We are very traditional people, okay, we take our cuisines seriously. Unless, you know, it's a cuisine we know nothing about. In that case, what the hell, throw in a little garam masala. I think it's just that we try too hard to please. Well, at least we're overt hypocrites about all of it. Now shut up and try this homemade cake already. It's eggless.

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