Food between cultures

By Razib Khan 46 Comments


Recently I read a piece on Indian cuisine from a “woke” perspective, Reclaiming Indian Food from the White Gaze: The same food I was teased for as a kid has become trendy and divorced from its cultural origins. Now, I’m using my cookbook to change the narrative. Obviously I disagree with the ideology interlaced throughout the piece, but the author is a pretty good writer, and a lot of the illustrations and experiences “ring true” to me. You could strip out a lot of the jargon like cultural appropriation and gaze, and the piece would be a fine read.

For example, the point that white women cooking “exotic” food is “trendy” and marketable in a way it isn’t when immigrants or nonwhite people do seems likely, and something I’d rather like explored more.

That being said, the implicit idea that people “own” culture and that the boundaries are sharp and strict seems to me wrong-headed ultimately. Synthesis is as old as human-kind…my family’s cuisine includes red chilis, potatoes, and tomatoes.  Just to give one example.

I’d be curious what Indian readers think, as the piece is obviously inflected by an Indian American lens.

Addendum: I’m from the far east of Bengal, but shrimp is my favorite food.

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Maacher Jhol!

By Razib Khan 12 Comments


Think Indians Are Mostly Non-Vegetarian, Or Only ‘Upper Castes’ Are Otherwise? This Menu Smriti Will Change Your Views:

In fact, if we discount the smaller states (Northeast excluding Assam and Goa) and consider the rest, we are left with only three provinces across the country where the meat-eating percentage on a weekly basis is in excess of 80 per cent – West Bengal, Assam and Kerala.

It seems possible that the higher fraction of meat-eaters in UP vs. the other major northwestern states is probably largely the function of the higher fraction of Muslims.

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