Screw Authenticity: Asian Food in America
|Should Americans even be calling pad thai "Thai" at this point?|
Tuesday, Salon columnist and Berkeleyite Andrew Leonard wrote reconciling his passion for Sichuan food -- and his voracious appetite for Sichuan cookbooks -- with American ingredients. And yesterday, Thailand-born New Yorker Pitchaya Sudbanthad wrote about coming to terms with the sugared-up, altered flavors of Thai food in America.
Running through these articles is the problem (or illusion) of authenticity. Can you really make "authentic" Sichuan or Thai or Japanese food in a different country, where everything -- vegetables, condiments, stoves, spices -- is different? Why not celebrate about how a dish has evolved in a different country, or the creativity of the cooks who are putting their stamp on it? And why shouldn't cooks who grew up eating food from two, or three, or a dozen different cuisines feel free to combine them any which way?
In the end, who cares about whether it's authentic? We just want it to taste good.