It’s phrases like: “It’s just not authentic enough!” or “I have had more original somewhere else!” that really get my goat. I think that when people comment on the authenticity of food that is not from their culture really nerves me. Yesterday, I had the delight of participating in a foodie conversation with 2 quite pretentious foodies – and guaranteed 99.99% the authenticity validation of a restaurant must be discussed. This conversation slowly become a list of all the restaurants that they feel are not authentic. A quick tip if you are stuck in this conversation and need an exit – just say “Really? have you been to Thailand?” or “Can you cook Indian food?”
I still do not understand the wonderment and burning need to serve or to eat authentic food all the time. I agree that it is nice to try and sample authentic food but if you are 5000 miles away from the country, how do you expect to have a truly authentic experience. It makes me happy just to see that they tried and the food was good. Let’s be positive and concentrate on what they have made and sometimes how they have made it better. Usually in foreign speciality restaurant the flavors are always adjusted to the palate of hosting country. Which I think is nice, instead of the odd notion that everything MUST be authentic – If you can palate authentic Thai Food then more power to you but the rest of us would prefer not to have the roof of our mouths blown off.
I think that as much as we should strive to retain cultures, it is also important to fuse and create new dishes. Funnily enough it seems that the more authentic dishes are usually less popular in most restaurant – when was the last time you when to a chinese restaurant and said “Hey instead of the chili chicken or sweet & sour pork i’ll have the Mapo Tofu!” And if you are burning for authentic chinese food why haven’t you gone to one of the plethora of newly popping up authentic chinese hot pot restaurants? Or to a Korean restaurant and just asked for live octopus (the most life threatening dish in existence)!
While the rest of the world has moved on and started concentrating on other forms and facets of cuisine there are still a few foodies that think they know best and authentic is best. I say “Release the shackles and embrace change” if its not authentic, then its a new creation. We’re in Nairobi lets make something different.