Is it just me or does it annoy you to see the generic Curry Powders for sale everywhere? Such a ridiculous over-simplification of Indian cooking never fails to annoy me. Yes, I know there is some generic Italian seasoning in my pantry. Yes, I know I have a box of Everest Fried Rice Masala in my pantry too. But it’s not the same as using Curry Powder because I know the difference. See?
Curry powder even appears as a magic soup ingredient in Julia Child’s cookbook. Gasp! One Teaspoon of “Curry Powder”, the lady writes, will lend a wonderful flavor to onion or bean soup. This didn’t just feel wrong. It was wrong. A little part of me just drooped as I read that. I was learning all sorts of wonderful things from the book. Learning how to cook brussel sprouts (a complete mystery to me), how to keep beans crisp and green, the basic motions of making an omelette and the secrets of hearty soups. Until it all came crashing down. Curry Powder. Sigh!
The term “Curry Powder” just seems to assume that all Indians eat “curry”. And that any kind of Indian cooking can be simplified/made authentic simply by the use of this magical mix of spices. Who eats curry in India, anyway? What is curry anyway? I’m not sure if the term “Thai Green Curry” evokes the same emotions in the Thai as Curry Powder does in me. But I’m willing to bet that it does cause some puritans to bristle.
It’s not just the Indian curry powder that really annoys me. I’m annoyed by any kind of all purpose seasoning that guarantees an “authentic” taste. The Italian herb mixes, the Thai curry pastes, the Chinese sauces. They all annoy me. It’s like we can’t even be bothered to attempt to learn to cook like natives do but we feel entitled to “authentic” (there’s that word again) results.
I hear French cuisine has earned itself World heritage Status. Perhaps it’s a hint for us to start treating our own 5000 year old tradition with a little more respect. Maybe we should have Shashi Tharoor look into it…