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Mar 1, 2009 06:37 AM

What is Authentic

I always come across these little spats between hounders as to what constitutes authentic cooking. Whether it be Indian, Thai, Italian etc... Can we truly distinguish? Italy is made up of many areas that are diametrically different. Sicilian food is much different than that from Camagna.... then there are the influences of thousands of years of trade and conquest. I'm interested to know your thoughts about this subject and if you have any traditions that were handed down to you by family members.

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    1. "Authentic" is the word you use to praise you food like as opposed to "not authentic" which are the words you use to disparage the other person's restaurant choice.

      4 Replies
      1. re: Harters

        What grand ma made and what I make.

        1. re: Harters

          I agree with Harters - and that's generally what I've found to be the case when most people toss that word around.

          1. re: Harters

            Exactly. So many of the CHers take themselves too seriously what with all the "guilt" over liking processed foods and slavish devotion to that which is "authentic."

            1. re: filth

              To me, good food is good food. If it is food and I can eat it, it is authentic. What I find humerous, is people call certain food authentic because it is what they grew up with. I have known New Yorkers and people from Chicago that gripe about a lack of "authentic" Italian food in certain cities when they really mean authentic New York or Chicago style Italian food from the particular part of town they grew up in. I grew up with Tex-Mex. I do not care if it is authentic or not, You know what an authentic mexican dish is? Barbequed rat. All food is some kind of hybrid, even so called authentic dishes. To me a McDonald's regular cheeseburger is just as authentic as a so called gourmet hamburger. I like both. I like good food, I do not care what it is called.

              Bigray in Ok

          2. Jack Daniels is "Authentic"

            1. Very often, "authentic" is whatever you had the first time you had it, whether it's Mexican or sushi or mac and cheese.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Caroline1

                LOL, I think you're onto someting Caroline! so for most Americans, TacoBell, California Rolls, and BlueBox is the real deal!?.........sadly, I think that is mostly true. sigh.

                1. re: nkeane

                  But what about Chinese food as in the dishes that taste as they would in China vs. the combo #4 junk many of us have come to associate with Chinese food throughout North America and much of the rest of the world? When faced with those massive menus of typical proteins with various vegetables cooked in standard "Chinese" ways, I've taken to asking the server if another menu exists with the items that Chinese people typically order in Mandarin or Cantonese. Sometimes a completely different menu appears before my eyes. Sometimes the menu I long for isn't in English, or is simply a list of items in Chinese characters scrawled on paper taped to the wall. I feel like they're keeping the "real deal" good stuff from me. It's like pulling teeth to get the staff to translate the dishes to English for me. For me, the word authentic comes into play when I feel that whatever I'm eating at a restaurant wasn't dumbed down for my delicate sensibilities. I never understand places that alter their flavours for a diner that doesn't request it. If I've made the leap to dine there, I'm interested in what the kitchen's turning out. I don't go to an Ethiopian restaurant for a burger and fries. I go for exotically spiced pulses, veggies and stews on injera. Don't bring me a knife and fork or ask if I'm comfortable eating off the same platter as my co-diners. If I want to be "comfortable", I'll eat somewhere less adventurous. I'm there to be challenged. Ultimately, though, whether or not something is authentic in my mind will be shaped by my own experiences, so if I've travelled to the place of origin of whatever I'm eating, I might be closer to the mark, but if I have only my local examples to compare, unless a more enlightened person sets me straight on the authenticity of something, I have only my tastebuds as my guide.