WaPo Columnist Says Indian Food Is Made With One Spice, Gets Roasted By The Entire Internet
On today's installment of major newspapers publishing unnecessarily spicy — or, in this case, literally not spicy enough – opinion essays, it seems the Washington Post has expanded its branch of esteemed writers to a group often underrepresented in media – ignorant, picky-eating toddlers. Yep, last week, columnist Gene Weingarten not only outed himself as having the sensitive palate and disposition of a preschooler served broccoli for lunch, but also as someone who loudly proclaims blatant falsehoods about Indian cuisine despite evidently knowing jack shit about it, spectacularly bungling several key facts about the South Asian fare in a now-viral “perspective” column appearing in the publication's magazine section.
"The Indian subcontinent has vastly enriched the world, giving us chess, buttons, the mathematical concept of zero, shampoo, modern-day nonviolent political resistance, Chutes and Ladders, the Fibonacci sequence, rock candy, cataract surgery, cashmere, USB ports … and the only ethnic cuisine in the world insanely based entirely on one spice." Whine-- sorry, Weingarten wrote in the original rendition of the article, aptly entitled “You Can’t Make Me Eat These Foods.” “If you like Indian curries, yay, you like Indian food! 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 continued the not-so-subtle racism seeping forth with every word. “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).”
Now for those of you that don't live under a rock, Weingarten's baseless claims are blatantly incorrect -- Indian cuisine consists of way more than merely “one spice,” as he says, featuring a wide variety of dishes with a breadth of delicious flavors, textures, and notes. Although the piece detailed several other of the author's terrible takes on various foods he evidently refuses to eat, condemning Old Bay seasoning, balsamic vinegar, and checks notes pizza or hot dogs with more than two toppings (all of which are deserving of their own stand-alone internet blowback) it seems the author's touting of likely stereotype-seeped misinformation particularly struck a nerve.
In the immediate aftermath, it seems Weingarten learned approximately nothing from his foray into being so boldly incorrect. "Took a lot of blowback for my dislike of Indian food in today's column so tonight I went to Rasika, DC's best Indian restaurant," he posted on social media amid the firestorm of his own design. “Food was beautifully prepared yet still swimming with the herbs & spices I most despise, “ he continued in a since-deleted post. “I take nothing back.”
Amid his bold defiance in the face of well, anyone with functioning tastebuds or who knows even a tiny bit about Indian cuisine, the backlash to his factually incorrect essay continued, with several celebrities and notable figures sounding off on just how wrong the columnist was in his assertions.
“Racism spiced with dollops of ignorance floating in a curry of bad writing,” quipped Weingarten's fellow Washington Post columnist, Barkha Dutt.
“You don’t like a cuisine? Fine. But it’s so weird to feel defiantly proud of not liking a cuisine,” wrote The Mindy Project star, Mindy Kaling. “You can quietly not like something too”
“On behalf of 1.3 billion people, kindly f**k off,” wrote cookbook author and host of Hulu's Taste The Nation, Padma Lakshmi. “You *clearly* need an education on spices, flavor, and taste” she continued, suggesting he read her book, The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs.
Although at first, Weingarten remained tight-lipped about the controversy, it seems the publication displayed some much-needed decorum, walking back the writer's egregious assertion that Indian food consists of one single spice, altering the article accordingly.
“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,” reads a correction message plastered atop the peice. “In fact, India’s vastly diverse cuisines use many spice blends and include many other types of dishes. The article has been corrected.”
Ultimately, Weingarten issued yet another statement on the matter, this one slightly more apologetic. “From start to finish plus the illo, the column was about what a whining infantile ignorant d---head I am,” he wrote in what may be an evidently rare moment of self-awareness. “I should have named a single Indian dish, not the whole cuisine, & I do see how that broad-brush was insulting. Apologies. (Also, yes, curries are spice blends, not spices.)”
So remember, folks, if you're going to loudly complain on the internet, at least know what the f--- you're taking about.