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How authentic?

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
I moved to central Oregon almost a year ago (from western OR), and there's an Indian restaurant in town. My friend who I grew up with in India came to visit and we went to that restaurant, first time for both of us.

The food was ok but pretty bland and not a whole lot like what we grew up with. Then a belly dancer started a performance. My friend and I got a big laugh out of that. There is no such thing in India! We were cracking up. We had fun but we're never going there again for an "Indian" meal.

It's really disappointing when a restaurant is so far off from authentic. But I guess it's a way to make a buck.
post #2 of 19
If the food's good, authenticity can take a back seat. Unless it was touted as highly authentic. But I'll take quality before worrying about authenticity in general.

Sounds like this was neither.

Phil
Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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Palace of the Brine -- "I hear the droning in the shrine of the sea monkeys." Saltair
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post #3 of 19
Thread Starter 
True, great food is great no matter what you decide to call it.
post #4 of 19
But you mentioned Penzeys in another thread--if you want authentic, go with their Indian and Asian blends.
I used their Tandoori blend for years, and had a chief steward who was constantly asking me if my Chicken Tandoori was "authentic", ****, I didn't know.
When I had my first meal of chicken tandoori in Kathmandu--IT WAS SPOT ON!! hehehehe
post #5 of 19
Thread Starter 
Yeah, Penzey's tandoori spice mix is right on! As are all the other spice mixes I have ordered from them. The only problem I had was a mix for fajita chicken that had the directions wrong, I think. Way too much seasoning for the chicken, and I think it was a typo. It was way too salty, and that's how I knew for sure. I'll forgive them for that, because everything else has been great, and when I used the fajita seasoning the next time I used what I thought would be right and it was yum
post #6 of 19
Thread Starter 
I really wish I had visited Nepal when I was in India.
post #7 of 19
[quote=shipscook;178314]But you mentioned Penzeys in another thread--if you want authentic, go with their Indian and Asian blends.quote]

This is nice to know. I usually grind my own mixtures, but it might be nice to have some ready made mixes on hand for quick meals and last minute preparations. Thanks to you and OregonYeti ...

Shel
post #8 of 19
How authentic can you really get before you've crossed the line? I hit Haliburton, On about a month ago to see a friend and they asked how close to authenitc their only chinese restaurant in the area was. Well gee, typical S&S chicken balls and veggie fried rice was the closes authentic item they have. But if these same people were to actually go to China and have real authentic food, they wouldn't eat it. Snails, dog, snake, eel, pigeon are typically things not found on a menu from a typical North American establisment but they're all over the place in China, its too foreign to be sellable here. I hate when people want authentic without knowing what goes into the dish and cringe wondering "WTF IS THAT?"
post #9 of 19
Thread Starter 
Headless Chicken, good point, you might want to be careful what you ask for :lol: I do really like Japanese eel dishes, by the way.
post #10 of 19
Not to high-jack this thread - but where did belly dancing originate? I'm thinking its Turkey but I'm prob way off.

At least you had a good laugh Yeti :)
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #11 of 19
Belly dancing is practised all over the middle east, but particularly in Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and Egypt (or at least I've seen it in all those countries!)
post #12 of 19
There's a terrific (and pretty authentic!) Moroccan restaurant, Imperial Fez, in Atlanta, GA that has not one but three belly dancers. :crazy: It's a great place for a group, since the food is served family style. And the chef/owner is Moroccan, so he does his best to keep the cooking as close as possible to home, although of course he uses American ingredients.

That to me is the crux of the "authenticity" debate: unless you bring in all the ingredients, water, cooking apparatus, etc., the food can't possibly be really "authentic." But so what, if it is delicious, and doesn't make egregious substitutions?
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
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post #13 of 19
Authenticity will always be subject to local interpretations and the ingredients/equipment available, take for example a tandoori oven. How many places outside of India would actually have one? And someone who knows how to use it?

Also of course how does one judge authenticity unless you have been to that country and eaten where the locals eat their local food? I guarantee that some people who enjoy eating asian cuisine outside of Asia, if they then went to eat real Asian food cooked by Asian cooks in Asia with local Asian ingredients would find it a great deal different (it doesn't have to be Asian, it could be any country, I'm only using that as an example because I've been there and found it so much better). The best thing, i believe, to do if you are lucky enough to travel and have the great chance, eat home food of that country with a local family. The experience will be memorable.

Its a tough ask sometimes to be truly authentic, but when you find a place that suits you and you are happy with it, hold on to it and treasure it like a jewel! And recommend it to like minded friends.
 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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 Don't handicap your children by making their lives easy.
Robert A. Heinlein

 
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post #14 of 19
Thread Starter 
oops double posted
post #15 of 19
Thread Starter 
When my parents took us kids (teenagers) back to the US, we stopped in Hong Kong and stayed at a high-rise hotel there. We went into a restaurant and the menu offered braised duck web and fish-lip soup. My parents didn't chicken out. We ate dinner there and it was good but not at all like your standard India Chinese-food restaurant. :)
post #16 of 19
DC - I think you'd find that nearly every 'Indian' restaurant in the UK has a tandoor oven - maybe fuelled by gas nowadays, but still 'authentic' by todays standards!
post #17 of 19
There was - and maybe still is - a local restaurant that served fish lip soup. It's been several years since I've eaten there, but it may be worth checking out again.

Shel
post #18 of 19
The basic question is, seems to me, how do you define "authentic," putting aside any specific instance.

In the first place, almost all ethnic cuisines are drawn too broadly. We say "Indian" or "Chinese" or "African" as if these were monolithic wholes. In fact, each of them is composed of a diversity of cultures, cuisines, and worldviews.

Why is it that we don't say "European?" Simply because we recognize the differences between French and German; English and Baltic; Italian and.....whoops. Now we're back to the basic question. Is there a French, or a German, or an English, or an Italian cuisine? Of course not. There are, within each of those countries, regional differences.

Looking to identify those regional differences, what we find is not so much specific recipes (although those certainly do exist), but, rather, an approach to preparing food. How is it that the people in X province look at the preparation of available foodstuffs, and how does it differ from the people in Y province?

There is another aspect of the problem. In any specifically identifyable regional cuisine we recognize that each housewife prepares a dish slightly differently, doing something that makes it her own. Not only do we recognize these differences, our tendency is to applaud them. Why, then, are we unwilling to make the same allowances for a restauranteer?

So, perhaps that's really the answer. "Authentic" is whether or not the cuisine in the restaurant reflects the outlook of the ethnicity it purports to portray---given the constrictions of available foodstuffs and the taste-orientation of the customer base. If it does; if the menu is true to the culinary outlook of the ethnicity, then I, for one, would call it authentic.
They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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They have taken the oath of the brother in blood, in leavened bread and salt. Rudyard Kipling
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post #19 of 19
Thread Starter 
If on the other hand, you can tell it's not close to any of the regional cuisines, they can call their restaurant "Joe's Sort-Of Italian Food" or "Sue's Somewhere In The World Cafe" or something like that:lol: The Indian restaurant I was talking about wasn't just adapting to American tastes, they were also taking shortcuts.

But as others have said, if the customers enjoy the food and the experience, that's what matters most.
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