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Washington Post columnist disses Indian food as ‘based entirely on one spice’, Padma Lakshmi leads online clapback

Indians across the world were left with a bad taste in mouth after an opinion piece in a US newspaper described Indian food as “based entirely on one spice”, and can knock off “a vulture off a meat wagon.” The column, published by Washington Post, was criticised by celebrity chefs, top diplomats and people of Indian descent on Twitter, as they called out the author for his reductive opinion.

The column titled, “You can’t make me eat these foods,” written by Washington Post humour columnist Gene Weingarten, focuses on various foods he refuses to eat and why. He has earlier written about why he refuses to eat foods like hazelnuts, anchovies etc. Talking about his disdain for Indian food, he wrote, “the only ethnic cuisine in the world insanely based entirely on one spice”.

“If you think Indian curries taste like something that could knock a vulture off a meat wagon, you do not like Indian food. I don’t get it, as a culinary principle,” he added. “It is as though the French passed a law requiring every dish to be slathered in smashed, pureed snails. (I’d personally have no problem with that, but you might, and I would sympathize),” the column read.

Model-television host and Top Chef judge Padma Lakshmi lambasted the writer in a tweet and said: “On behalf of 1.3 billion people kindly f**k off.” Saying that he clearly needed “an education on spices, flavor, and taste,” she offered up her book “The Encyclopedia of Spices and Herbs” in a follow-up tweet.

Lakshmi’s tweet garnered a lot of reactions, and many joined in to give him a “lesson” on various Indian spices. Writer Shireen Ahmed wrote, “I pride myself on my Pakistani cooking. I also love South Indian, and fusion dishes. That you got paid to write this tripe, and boldly spew your racism is deplorable.
May your rice be clumpy, roti dry, your chilies unforgivable, your chai cold, and your papadams soft.”

As the criticism grew louder, the writer went to a famous Indian restaurant to have a proper taste.

Although, he did try to eat Indian food following the backlash online, he continued to maintain his stance on Indian cuisine.

However, on Monday, Washington Post updated the column. “A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Indian cuisine is based on one spice, curry, and that Indian food is made up only of curries, types of stew. In fact, India’s vastly diverse cuisines use many spice blends and include many other types of dishes. The article has been corrected.”

Weingarten also tweeted an apology, saying he did not mean to be “insulting.” However, people were less than impressed by his defensive approach.

People were not only annoyed by his ignorance or lack of research before writing the column, they also said his take is ‘racist’.

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