Padma Lakshmi Just Clapped Back At This Reductive Food Opinion

There are some foods with basic characteristics that can be easily summarized. Take pizza ー in its most general form, it consists of a dough base with tomato sauce and cheese. Of course, there are infinite variations to the formula, but it remains fairly straightforward. If you try to say the same about Indian curry, chances are your experience with the dish has been limited. While it is common to throw the word curry around to mean a stew-like dish with spices, in a country as large as India, you can be sure that no two curries are the same.

Padma Lakshmi has a number of titles under her belt, including food expert and author of "The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs", per her website. Aside from her vast experience focused on food, Lakshmi, who was born in India, was less than enthusiastic about Gene Weingarten's recent article in The Washington Post. The article title, "You can't make me eat these foods," listed many of Weingarten's personal dislikes including Indian food, to which Lakshmi took offense. She fired off a rebuttal tweet to Weingarten's claim that Indian food is, "the only ethnic food in the world insanely based entirely on one spice." She posted, "On behalf of 1.3 billion people, kindly f*** off" (via Twitter). Lakshmi also recommended he dig a little deeper on the topic of spices, flavor, and taste, and retorted, "I suggest starting with my book 'The Encyclopedia of Spices & Herbs.'"

Indian food is so much more than one spice

A flavor debate ensued in the comments, with people on one end of the argument saying that taste was subjective and Gene Weingarten was allowed to have his own opinion on the matter. On the other hand, his comment about Indian food being based solely on one spice was met with a lot of opposition. Twitter user @aazhie remarked, "I assume he thinks 'curry' means just one spice," also echoed by many commenters. Britannica describes a curry as a dish with dozens of spices, including cumin, coriander, fenugreek, cinnamon, and cardamom. Although you can buy curry powder in most supermarkets, as The Spruce Eats indicates, it isn't a component of authentic Indian cuisine and was actually created by the British.

While it's unlikely that everyone has the deep knowledge of herbs and spices that Padma Lakshmi acquired after writing an entire encyclopedia on the matter, her ire over Weingarten's article speaks particularly to his overly broad perspective. In The Washington Post article, Weingarten goes so far as to remark "I don't get it, as a culinary principle," based solely on his belief that Indian food consists of one spice. Personal taste is certainly relevant, and the journalist makes it clear that he has many dislikes that could define him as a picky eater (balsamic vinegar, hazelnuts, anchovies, and sweet pickles, to name a few). Nevertheless, reducing the cuisine of 1.3 billion people to one spice reads more like an uninformed statement or a misguided attempt at humor.