General Discussion

People of Color Cuisine - moved thread

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General Discussion

People of Color Cuisine - moved thread

Dennison | Aug 8, 2001 01:25 PM

Jim -- don't know how to "move a thread", hope this is the right way to do so.

As a “person of color”, I’ve been following this particular thread with great interest, especially since the quality of reasoned discussion has been so high. Browsing through the archive of previous threads indicates recurring themes of “deliciousness” and “faux-ethnic” cooking. As Jim and others have noted, this is clearly one of the Major Issues of chowhounding. My take on it is that everything we eat reflects the time and place in which it is prepared. Having recently been lucky enough to spend almost two months living, cooking and eating in Thailand, I can certainly attest to the fact that there is no way to exactly reproduce that cooking here in the U.S. Even the freshest ingredients here have been shipped long distances instead of being freshly picked that morning. The coconut milk there has been freshly grated and squeezed out from local sources. Our water has entirely different taste characteristics. In many cases, the heat source we use is gas instead of coals. The resulting dish is by its very nature a different creation, even though the “same” recipe may be used. So is the food we eat here no longer “authentic”? Of course not, it is a simply a reflection of the resources and methods available at the time.

A separate issue is the discussion of whether various cuisines are emasculated for a certain clientele. Whether we like it or not, this is the case more often than not. When Thai friends are cooking a meal for those accustomed to eating in Bangkok, it is certainly spiced differently. The thing that’s really interesting to me is that our taste buds adapt and grow – after six weeks eating on the sidewalks where nothing is cooked specifically to order and just about everything is murderously hot, our heat tolerance level expands accordingly. In rural Asia, our body also goes through a certain amount of American sugar withdrawal (which is being discussed in a separate thread) over time and taste buds seem to wake up and get crisper and more responsive as a result. I’d hazard a guess that chowhounds in general have some pretty well developed palates, but all of us come from different backgrounds and our tastes have matured following our own paths. I can dig in to fermented soybean dishes with relish (even natto), and can even handle asafetida, but the funk of some oozing cheeses makes me recoil involuntarily. Can I train myself to get over it? Probably, but I really have no desire to do so.

Buddhist monks in Thailand have no dietary restrictions and eat meat. They walk the streets in the morning with a begging bowl and eat whatever is given to them. One explained gently to me that they do not refuse what Buddha provides. In that vein, I don’t refuse the bounty of delicious food that I can locate, no matter how low- or high-brow and regardless of how “authentic” it might be. This is not to say that I think the food in PS is worth eating, 'cause I'm with the Mad Hound on his reviews, but evidently someone out there thinks it's okay since all the joints still exist. To each their own. Lemme just go find some eats that I personally dig.

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