Sejal Sukhadwala writes on the “bogus” quest for authenticity in cooking, and makes a sound point:
One of the ideas underpinning Claudia Roden‘s cookery books is that food is an integral part of identity. At the launch of her most recent book, The Food of Spain, she spoke about members of an Egyptian chefs’ organisation who didn’t want to cook their mothers’ food as they associated it with poverty. They have jettisoned authenticity in favour of aspiration; evolution at work.
As Sukhadwala points out, authenticity is often not quantifiable, but more of an “I know it when I see it” sort of thing. The sociologist in me also tends to think that “authenticity” is frequently a proxy for differentiation, allowing those with the leisure time or money to afford expensive or time-consuming preparations to show off a bit, Veblen-style. Also, an insistence on “authenticity” assumes that there was some Edenic time in the past when cooking was perfect, and that ever since then everything has been ruin and corruption. But that’s not gastronomy so much as sharia.
What do you think?