The foodie Frankenstein creates a monster… (July 2009)

A subject dear to our hearts: food!  In particular, what do we think of the very inter-cultural mix-and-match approach to restaurant and supermarket food these days?

You can understand the proliferation of restaurants reflecting the patterns of immigration, new ones springing up perhaps initially to feed the incoming people from whichever community (Chinese, Indian/ Pakistani/Bangladeshi, Italian, French, Polish, Caribbean, North, East & West African, Thai, you name it!), but then taken up by the incipient population as their own.

But then you got crossover – I’ve seen an Indian/Chinese/Mexican restaurant and there are plenty more post-colonial anomolies – a French/Vietnamese restaurant in London, for example.   But if that has a certain logic, then the abuses might have created a culinary frankenstein’s monster.  The ubiquitous Tikka Masala in every possible guise – including atop pizzas, flavouring crisps and anywhere else you can possibly think, and then some.  The sanctity of the original cultural origins has long since vanished as the food has taken a life of its own.

Food has lost its cultural virginity, you might say.  Sad, but do any of us have any right to claim ownership over our traditions and to stop them evolving, morphing into something entirely new?  How else would we innovate, introduce creative use of Indian spices or Chinese pastry into traditional English cuisine, for example?  Rather than homogenising food into a global hotch potch, is this not a trend towards creating entirely new ways to tickle the jaded palate of the lazy consumer.

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