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Gingersnap
10-08-2009, 01:45 PM
Do we really want to turn this country into a pathetic cross between Seattle and Barcelona?

By Kevin Myers

Thursday October 08 2009

MIDDAY in the centre of Dublin, and a great urge fell upon me for an old-fashioned Dublin pub lunch. It is one of the forgotten little truths of Irish life that the pub lunch was invented in Ireland -- not the great big cooked lunch, in which the pub becomes a restaurant for an hour or two, but a lunch that is tailor-made for serving in a licensed premises, namely a home-made soup, good, well-filled sandwiches and freshly-made coffee.

So I went into one of the oldest pubs in Dublin off Grafton Street, which has long cherished the traditions and the lore of the Irish pub. Well, it used to. There was piped music hissing and slithering all over the place, and two television sets were giving me Sky News in stereo. I asked for a coffee while I made up my mind about the sandwich.

"What kind of coffee do you want? An Americano, a negro, a latte, an espresso, a macchiato or a cappuccini?"

Well, I wanted a coffee, not a crash course in Esperanto. "A coffee, please. And could I see your sandwich menu, please?"

"We have panini, ciabatta, panini, crostini -- which would you like?"

"I want a sandwich, please."

"Sorry, we don't do sandwiches."

"We don't do sandwiches" -- let that be the epitaph over the grave of the Irish pub, as it pretends it is Starbucks.

But, of course, it can't be Starbucks. All it can do is to provide a pale and inept imitation thereof, with a mangled vocabulary, and bastardised foods, and television sets on in every corner, with noise-pollution pulsing out of the wallpaper, and instead of coffee and a sandwich, a swift and meaningless immersion-course in the languages of the Mediterranean.

But if it were only just the Mediterranean. The inchoate and undignified desire to be anything other than Irish means that the word "chip" -- as in deep-fried potato -- has almost vanished from our menus.

I have now seen "cod and French fries" in half a dozen places and even the irony-free "fish and frites". We apparently want to use any terminology which proves that we live in a European version of Seattle. But we don't. This is Ireland. We don't manufacture jumbo jets and we don't make 'Frasier' sitcoms and we are not the natural home of the world's largest coffee-house franchise. And this endless quest to prove that today we are not what we were yesterday is pathetic, degrading, undignified. Most of all, it is counter-productive.

This article is about Irish food but it could just as well be written about any country in the Anglosphere. We all have such varied and tasty native cuisines. Why does every restaurant seem to feel the need to serve Thai shrimp on olive panini with drizzled tzatziki?

There's something to be said for being able to appreciate your own cuisine. You don't see real Indian restaurants serving beef fajitas and no Tex-Mex place I've ever been in felt the need to push salade niçoise. We're losing familiarity with our own cooking heritage.

Independent (http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/do-we-really-want-to-turn-this-country-into-a-pathetic-cross-between-seattle-and-barcelona-1907470.html)

bijou
10-08-2009, 02:18 PM
You can get a nice burger in India.


There is a bakery on the busy Museum Road in this bustling city where you can have imported Italian pasta, Thai sauces and jelly-based Japanese soft drinks, while the patisserie displays trays of tiramisu, black forest and chocolate truffle cakes. In the corner where freshly baked bread is kept, I find some intriguing loaves. It looks like bread, feels like bread and is packed like bread. But it does not taste like bread, for it is spiced with fenugreek, turmeric and carom seed, as if it were a paratha, the buttery flatbread popular in northern India.

Western-style bread is hardly the first product that Indians have absorbed and transformed into something uniquely Indian. It joins a long list of items of food, music, art and culture that have come to India from other lands, and instead of resisting change, or rejecting it, this country has accepted it and made it into something quite different, tasty and interesting.

Menus of Chinese restaurants in India offer an American chop suey that's neither American, nor Chinese; Italian restaurants offer Jain pizzas, without onions, garlic or potatoes (because the Jain faith prohibits eating of vegetables grown underground); and when McDonald's opened its restaurants in India, not only did it not serve burgers made of beef, but it soon found that among its more popular burgers was one made of alu tikki, which uses as its pattie a potato-based spicy dumpling. ...
http://www.nytimes.com/2006/12/27/opinion/27iht-edsalil.4028768.html

noonwitch
10-08-2009, 04:02 PM
This article is about Irish food but it could just as well be written about any country in the Anglosphere. We all have such varied and tasty native cuisines. Why does every restaurant seem to feel the need to serve Thai shrimp on olive panini with drizzled tzatziki?

There's something to be said for being able to appreciate your own cuisine. You don't see real Indian restaurants serving beef fajitas and no Tex-Mex place I've ever been in felt the need to push salade niçoise. We're losing familiarity with our own cooking heritage.

Independent (http://www.independent.ie/opinion/columnists/kevin-myers/do-we-really-want-to-turn-this-country-into-a-pathetic-cross-between-seattle-and-barcelona-1907470.html)


You're right-although most ethnic restaurants in the US also serve a couple of american dishes. My dad used to always order a hamburger when we went to chinese restaurants.

I'm kind of a purist about cooking, at least when it comes to italian food. I don't think it mixes well with asian food, or south american or mexican food. Thai shrimp should be served with Tom Yum Gai and either rice or rice noodles.

I wish we had a good Tex Mex place in metro Detroit.