While Tom Cruise loves Chicken Tikka Masala, the Internet is buzzing with the 'curry debate'
The Instagram handle of Asha’s Indian Restaurant shared a photo of Tom Cruise with other staff from the restaurant in the background
Last weekend, actor Tom Cruise took the Internet by storm when pictures of him visiting Indian singer Asha Bhosle’s restaurant Asha’s in UK’s Birmingham went viral. Cruise ordered a second helping of Chicken Tikka Masala because he had enjoyed it a lot.
The Instagram handle of Asha’s Indian Restaurant shared a photo of Tom Cruise with other staff from the restaurant in the background and wrote, “It was an absolute pleasure to welcome @tomcruise to Asha’s Birmingham yesterday evening. Tom ordered our famous Chicken Tikka Masala and enjoyed it so much that as soon as he had finished, he ordered it all over again - The greatest compliment (sic).”
“We are very proud that Tom Cruise has joined the ever-growing list of celebrities such as The Rolling Stones and Ed Sheeran that have dined at our award-winning restaurants (sic),” they added.
Asha Bhonsle too said on social media that she was looking forward to Tom visiting her restaurant. She wrote, “I was very happy to hear that Mr. Tom Cruise enjoyed his fine dining experience at Asha’s (Birmingham) and I look forward to him visiting us again soon! (sic)”
While we have celebrities like Tom Cruise on one side exploring the delicacies of Indian cuisine, on the other hand, we have a relentless, ongoing debate around the same (particularly curries) that are viewed on a racist context.
An opinion piece by a news organization has been receiving a lot of backlash on social media lately. The article, titled “You can’t make me eat these foods,” spoke about several foods that the writer would refuse to eat, including hazelnuts, anchovies and Indian food. However, the reason which the writer gave was what sparked protest and criticism on social media. He had described the Indian cuisine as “the only ethnic cuisine in the world insanely based entirely on one spice.”
His statement reads, “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 (sic).”
“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. 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.) (sic).”
One among those who hit out at the writer was Indian-American author Padma Lakshmi, who attached screenshots of the article on Instagram with the heading, ‘What in the white nonsense is this?’
Calling the piece “racist and lazy at best,” Padma said the writer was “just regurgitating old colonizer tropes, gleefully reducing the culture and country of 1.3 billion people to a (frankly) weak punchline.”
Her caption read, “There is truly no need for something like this to be published in 2021 (or ever). It’s racist and lazy at best. My issue is not this person’s performative contrarianism (although it is tedious) or that he didn’t enjoy the Indian cuisines he’s tasted. My problem is in this attempt at a comedic piece he’s actually just regurgitating old colonizer tropes, gleefully reducing the culture and country of 1.3 billion people to a (frankly) weak punchline - and that the @washingtonpost published it (sic).”
She concluded by saying, “As one Twitter commenter said: I pride myself on my Pakistani cooking. I also love South Indian, and fusion dishes. That you got paid to write this tripe, and boldly spew your racism is deplorable. May your rice be clumpy, roti dry, your chilies unforgivable, your chai cold, and your papadams soft (sic).”
The mediahouse later amended the article and issued a disclaimer saying, “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. In fact, India’s vastly diverse cuisines use many spice blends and include many other types of dishes. The article has been corrected.”
The writer of the article too responded to the criticism by saying he dined at Washington DC’s best Indian restaurant, and while the food was beautifully prepared, it was “still swimming with the herbs & spices he most despised (sic).” He added, “I take nothing back (sic).”